Upstream Color (2013)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   B.5.

USA, 2013.  ERBP.  Screenplay by Shane Carruth.  Cinematography by Shane Carruth.  Produced by Shane Carruth, , .  Music by Shane Carruth.  Production Design by .  Film Editing by Shane Carruth, .  

Eight years after he captured the imaginations of science-fiction fans everywhere with his low-budget, high-concept work of niftiness, Primer, writer-director Shane Carruth returns with another indie mind bender. A young woman is drugged while attending a night club, is kidnapped by a thief who, holding her under the influence of a strange organism introduced into her system, gets her to give him all her major assets. When she recovers, she finds herself without a life to go back to, and also (according to the liner notes) awakened to the world in a way that she never was before. Meeting a business consultant (Carruth) who may possibly have undergone the same experience, the two of them fall in love, enjoy fragmented conversations in hours of endless montage sequences, and have a metaphysical connection to a pig farm. It sounds a lot more captivating than it actually is; beautifully shot and edited, there is a sense that something is happening that is actually cohesive, but Carruth plays his cards so close that when the film isn’t obscure it is frustratingly esoteric. Not figuring this one out is more a matter of whether or not you even give a shit about what is happening, particularly in light of two characters who are bleakly opaque, written by a filmmaker whose movies (now that there are two I can say this) are incredibly cold (there were no women in the other one, so it took until now to really notice).


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