Upstream colour (2015)


Director: Shane Carruth.
Starring: Shane Carruth, Amy Seimetz, Andrew Sensenig, Thiago Martins. USA. 1h 36m

So after the success of Primer (2004) Shane Carruth is back with even more bizarro Lo fi sci fi that he refuses to explain to deeply and again no one questions why they just sit back and let the story take them away.

The story is unusual but is more linear but remains open for interpretation, which can be annoying sometimes but Shane Carruth manages to make it more enthralling by giving the viewer more opportunities to accept his dream like story… that starts out as a nightmare.

After an introduction that seems to have no relevance a pair of boys experiment with what seems like mind control, blindfolded they seem to mimic each other’s actions, the film seems to jump around but gives the impression through a montage of clips that an unidentified larva is being passed around in (some fairly large) pills, which a guy, known and the Thief acquires one and slips it to Kris (Seimetz) after tasering her at a club and kidnapping her. after awakening she has become incredibly suggestible, which the Thief exploits Kris and manages to get her to sign over all of her cash, equity on her home and takes her collection of rare coins, in the meantime he keeps her occupied by making a paper chain from copying a book called Walden and consuming a mostly water based diet. Eventually Kris is released from this spell and manically eats and laughs at a painting on her wall like a child watching TV then passess out, upon waking up coverd in food she discovers that she’s contracted roundworm and tries a DIY removal using a kitchen knife.

Later on a pig farmer known as the Sampler uses a booming repetitive sound to attack the worm and therefore Kris to his farm, where he transfers the worm to a young pig, she awakens in an abandoned SUV on the freeway with no memory, rushes home to find it ransacked and her body covered in cuts, she attempts to phone the police, but has nothing to tell them, so showers and cleans up. After getting fired from her job and discovering that she has no money the film cuts to several years later when she meets Jeff (Shane Carruth) a guy who seems to have had a similar experience and the two start to share similar emotions and a unique connection, often feeling and seeing the same things, Kris seems a little more sensitive but together they try to piece together their past lives; seek answers and revenge.

It’s brilliant to see Shane Carruth is back again; losing himself in a project filled with an ambient textured soundtrack and depictions of those human interactions that are often left out movies; awkward situations and talked over conversations. There is often a sense of frustration and all overlaid with less technical bableeze. I often wonder if his life is like this, he take so much ownership of his movies, it’s like a slice of him is etched onto the film.

The story is incredibly unique and very open to interpretation, the most common idea is that the larvae has a life cycle which once ingested it tends to connect life together.

A lot of the film seems to be quite “raw” there’s a fresh feel to the day lit scenes, and no urgency to keep focus but the audience us asked to focus in, at times there is a split between the pictures and the sound. Similar to the techniques used it THX1138 (1971) when THX is on trial and there is a delay in the sound that’s overlayed between the two council members. It makes you think and concentrate. There are some period mundane repetition and the sounds create a resonance that is unusual but harmonises the chaos of the film.

If you “get” the meaning or not it’s still brilliant to see, a dreamlike awakening of two individuals from such a small and bizarre culprit, that opens up notions about humans “place” on this planet as part of a life cycle rather than being at the top of the food pyramid. Eventually there is a sense of connection which is enthralling and breathtaking, a poetic mesh of ideas that all illustrate how disconnected we are with our natural world.




Rating- 7/10

R –   Holy Motors (2012), Primer (2004)
L – One Man Movies, Mind Control, A-Z of Aesthetic Films, Lo-Fi-Sci-Fi an Introduction.


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