Shane Carruth’s much-anticipated Upstream Color recently screened at the Sundance festival, and reviews have begun popping up on the Web.
Ryland Aldrich, “UPSTREAM COLOR is Filled with Big, Confusing Ideas”:
Quite possibly the most anticipated film at the festival, Upstream Color is just as bold as Primer, though far less accessible. Like Primer, this is the kind of film that is better to go into without knowing much. Unlike Primer, it might not be possible to give away much at all. This is an experience movie with many big confusing ideas. Some will likely find brilliance in these ideas. Others will be frustrated.
Dense, beautiful, hypnotic, and almost willfully opaque, “Upstream Color” is a great movie, but it is not an inviting one. Carruth expects you to do a certain amount of the work for yourself, and for some viewers, there is no more frustrating kind of film than that.
Shane Carruth’s 2004 time travel drama “Primer” provoked endless scrutiny for its heavy reliance on tech speak that the director refused to dumb down. His long-awaited followup, “Upstream Color,” also maintains a seriously cryptic progression that’s nearly impossible to comprehend in precise terms, but its confounding ingredients take on more abstract dimensions. An advanced cinematic collage of ideas involving the slipperiness of human experience, Carruth’s polished, highly expressionistic work bears little comparison to his previous feature aside from the constant mental stimulation it provides for its audience. This stunningly labyrinthine assortment of murky events amount to a riddle with no firm solution.
“Upstream Color” is almost like a sci-fi thriller without possessing either genre trait. In truth it’s more of an opaque identity and relationship story that takes its time to unfurl without feeling the need to connect its cellular tissues. “Upstream Color” is an exploration of themes and abstractions rather than a concrete narrative, but it’s also like a puzzle box with all the pieces laying at your feet. You may not be able to figure it out, but that’s part of the point of this experimental, sensory-landen experiential film that washes over you like a sonorous bath of beguiling visuals, ambient sounds and corporeal textures.
Todd McCarthy, “Upstream Color: Sundance Review”:
As far as audiences are concerned, Upstream Colors certainly is something to see if you’re into brilliant technique, expressive editing, oblique storytelling, obscuritanist speculative fiction or discovering a significant new actress. Tastes running to anything even slightly more conventional should stick with what they know.
Upstream Color will have a limited theatrical run beginning in April 2013, followed by a release on Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, and other digital “on demand” channels, as well as DVD/Blu-ray (more info).
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I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.