Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 12A
  • Drama, Sci-Fi
  • 2013
  • 96 mins

Upstream Color

Film4

Synopsis

Shane Carruth's second feature is an artful experiment in audience-addling alienation.

About

"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?

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Shane Carruth
  • Director: Shane Carruth
  • Writer: Shane Carruth
  • Producer: Shane Carruth, Ben LeClair, Casey Gooden
  • Photographer: Shane Carruth

In a nutshell

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.

by Anton Bitel

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    Apache Territory

    Western with Rory Calhoun. A drifter finds himself in charge of a desperate stand against Apache warriors who are determined to either expel incomers from their domain or kill them.

    On Film4: 31 May 11:00AM

  • Film4

    I Wish

    Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda's critically acclaimed, charming drama explores the lives of two young brothers whose parents have separated.

    On Film4: 31 May 1:00AM

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House 2016

    Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House, London¿s groundbreaking open-air film festival, returns between 4-17 August, with a prestigious programme of classic and contemporary films, and a total of thr

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Film4-backed film deals at Cannes 2016

    In addition to Andrea Arnold's American Honey taking home the Jury Prize, Film4 are thrilled to report that a number of deals were announced for Film4-backed films in Cannes... THE KILLING OF

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Tweets @Film4

  • Morning! At 11am, Claude Rains is looking for dinosaurs in the Amazonian jungle in 60s adventure The Lost World. https://t.co/fecZe2KGS0

  • Our late-night highlight at 1.45am is @joshuatrank's superb found-footage sci-fi debut, Chronicle. https://t.co/QKTICAWQZd

  • Coming up tomorrow night... https://t.co/8H6bqxcZwJ

  • Coming up at 9pm, Lily Collins stars in YA fantasy adventure The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. https://t.co/m5wJw0jYQC

  • Up next at 4.50pm, Whoopi Goldberg is a club singer hiding out in a nunnery in 90s musical comedy Sister Act. https://t.co/JniDaNP68n

Share