Upstream Color (2013) Review

Upstream Color (2013)

Directed & Written & Produced by Shane Carruth

Starring: Amy Seimetz & Shane Carruth

Cinematography by Shane Carruth

Edited by Shane Carruth & David Lowery

Music by Shane Carruth

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.

My Opinion:

Was glad to finally see this on Amazon Prime U.K. as I’ve been wanting to see it ever since I saw Shane Carruth’s other & even more confusing film Primer. Ah, Primer. I… think I liked Primer? I’m not going to pretend that I could at all follow along with the complex time travel involved but, hey, I like a smart film & apparently things were quite accurate in that film according to smart science-y people (or so I read). Gotta love a movie where you have to go online afterwards to try to figure it out. I found a complicated diagram online trying to explain it all (it’s in my Primer review I’ve linked if you want to see it).

So, onto Upstream Color. Again, it’s a bit weird and very “what the fuck is going on?”. I’d say it’s more strange than Primer since that was, really, just a time travel story even though it was complicated but I couldn’t quite figure out the meaning in Upstream Color (if there is one). What is this movie trying to tell us? What was up with the pigs?! What was the purpose of the pig farmer guy? Why was he doing that re-implanting (I’m trying to stay spoiler-free)? What was with the sound stuff he was doing? What was up with those flowers? What the hell was the point of any of this?!? Is this a circle of life type thing? This movie gave me vibes of what I’ve always assumed Terrence Malick’s The Tree Of Life movie is probably like (but I can’t say for sure since I never watched that since it sounds totally pretentious). But I probably will watch that someday since I’m always drawn to these sort of movies despite not being smart enough to understand them.

Well, I won’t ramble on forever talking about this movie since I have no explanations. There are okay articles you can find online if you want to go looking up “Upstream Color explained!” but what I read online didn’t help much either. To be honest, the people writing those articles didn’t seem to know what the point of the movie was either. Even what Shane Carruth himself has said about this movie doesn’t offer all that much insight. For example, this is something Carruth said that’s on Wikipedia under Themes & is spoiler-free (you can read a little more at the link if you want):

“In April 2013, io9.com asked director Shane Carruth if the film’s point regarded a return to nature. Carruth replied that the film explored breaking cycles:

It’s more about what those pigs are now embodying. I mean, there is a break of the cycle. These people that have been affected by this are now taking back ownership of the thing that they’re connected to…I don’t believe that narrative works when it’s trying to teach a lesson, or speak a factual truth. What it’s good for is, an exploration of something that’s commonplace and universal — maybe that’s where the truth comes from.”

Yeah… Okay…. Well, I liked this movie just fine as I do like weird films (Hello, Butt Boy & Rubber!). I think this is a smarter film than those, though, even if the explanations of it sound like a load of bollocks (I’ve put that word in here for Film Miasma). I do prefer Primer as that is shockingly now seeming like the much simpler film but I enjoyed the bizarre ride with this one. Especially the weird shit with the pigs! Amy Seimetz (from Pet Sematary and the director & writer of the equally weird She Dies Tomorrow) was good in the main role. And Shane Carruth seems very talented. He did everything with this movie! Directed, produced, wrote & starred in as well as doing the editing, cinematography & music. I’ve liked enough of what I’ve seen of his work so far to watch anything else he might make.

My Rating: 6.5/10