Upstream Color isn’t a film you can walk out of with an immediately clear idea about it. Its moments take some untangling and replaying, like a vivid and broken dream that has you waking up in a nervous daze.
The story follows Kris, a young woman who is deliberately infected with some sort of parasite and manipulated into giving over a large amount of money to a thief. Meanwhile, she is drawn into something much larger, which fragments her identity, unravels her life and also brings to light the interconnectivity of all those trapped in the lost world created by this microscopic organism. Among them is Jeff, who becomes not just a lover, but also someone with whom she can hide and search for answers.
Your mind may already be going in circles, but in truth the plot of the film is not its main appeal. The skeletal narrative is there as a hidden presence, overlaid by rich, elegant and poetic shots, all edited with precision, side by side. The incredible scenes of microscopic blood, tissue, the parasite, and a disintegrating dead pig are disturbing yet oddly mesmerising to watch.
The sensory detail in each shot and the non-linear progression of the film make it a moving experience that washes over in waves of emotion. Its complexity is what makes it so fascinating to follow, with audiences grasping at breezy scene transitions, obscurities, and ghostly clues: it’s like tracing threads in intricate embroidery.
Director Shane Carruth has created an innovative and stylistically captivating film. Although it has the potential to be construed as artsy nonsense, pretentious or just downright confusing, most should be able to see that it presents a truly unique vision, and in turn offers a unique cinematic experience that will leave much to debate.
Upstream Color is released nationwide on 30th August 2013.
Watch the trailer for Upstream Color here: