Tom Hiddleston stars in Ben Wheatley's adaptation of J.G. Ballard's novel about the residents of a tower block
Shane Carruth's second feature is an artful experiment in audience-addling alienation.
"I told you a story, and then you've taken it and made it your own - you do this all the time."
Kris (Amy Seimetz) is telling off Jeff (Shane Carruth) for confusing her childhood memory (of nearly drowning) with his - but this is only one of many confusions in a film full of mesmerism, deja vu, metempsychosis and parasitism. For in Upstream Colour, feelings are vicarious, thoughts are surrogate, and experiences are had by (porcine) proxy, as these bewildered lovers, having unwittingly ingested a mind-altering grub, struggle to reclaim their fractured sense of identity.
After tying viewers' brains in knots with his time-travel debut Primer (2004), polyhyphenate filmmaker Carruth returns to the theme of multiplied identity with a feature that, for all its strict chronological ordering, continues to confound with a set of parallel narratives whose precise interrelationship remains stunningly oblique. Carruth eschews easy exposition, instead deploying staccato editing, story-leaping match cuts, cool framing and organic sound design to hypnotise viewers into making their own connections between all his oneiric riffing - even if the actual explanatory frame, divulged by Carruth in interviews and readily available online, seems something of a pig in a poke compared to the wilder places to which this film's free associations might take us.
Still, even if the film's Lynch-like psychogenic fugue comes with a microbial solution of sorts, there is greater pleasure to be had in losing yourself (much as Kris does) to the throbbing ebb and flow of its motifs and ideas, as they get right under the skin. What could be better, after all, than to make Carruth's story your own?
Carruth's mindmelt of mesmerism, metempsychosis and micro-organisms will leave some a little cold, most bemused if not utterly baffled, and near all needing to see it a second time.
An exclusive clip from Gerard Johnson's Film4-backed Hyena starring Peter Ferdinando
When Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) is killed in the past by a time-travelling villain, Agent J (Will Smith) travels back to 1969 to save him, and teams up with a younger version of Agent K (Josh Brolin) on Film4
Find out who voted for Film4.com's list of the top 100 must-see films of the 21st Century so far
A tooth-chattering voyage through the scariest movies ever made
@Film4 "I want to remember every minute, always, always to the end of my days." At 12.45pm, David Lean's Brief Encounter. http://t.co/H9TydUYSqV
@Film4 @robmesure #stiffupperlip
@Film4 Up next at 12.45pm, we're screening an all-time classic: David Lean's heartbreaking romantic drama Brief Encounter. http://t.co/DmweZGDFuP
@Film4 RT @Film4Insider: Out on DVD/Blu-Ray today is Mike Leigh's Oscar nominated Mr. Turner. Here's our interview with star Timothy Spall: https:…
@Film4 RT @Film4Insider: Three Film4-backed films in cinemas this week: #DukeOfBurgundy, #CatchMeDaddy, and from Friday, #Hyena. Busy times! http:…