After undergoing the most severe, personal and destructive theft imaginable, Kris must attempt to re-build her life. She seems to find herself drawn to Jeff, who has also undergone some severe life changes due to his personal, out-of-control actions. Both individuals become somewhat addicted to one another and before long they struggle as their identities begin to merge together and their personal doubts about whose memories are whose infect their reality. Meanwhile, there are ‘electric blue’ plants and mysterious maggots, that harbour some kind of infection, burrowing into every element of the story. Then there’s one man, running a pig farm, who drifts in and out of the picture like a phantom; secretive and unseen.
There is nothing easy going about Shane Carruth’s Upstream Colour. Having not seen Primer, the director’s previous film from almost a decade ago, I had no pre-conceptions or expectations. Upstream Colour asks many questions and doesn’t help its audience in answering any of them. It is a delightful, terrifying film that has little in the way of narrative or character. This is because the characters themselves don’t seem to be entirely sure of who they are. Upstream Colour doesn’t take its audience for granted. Carruth repeatedly nudges us in certain directions before slamming the door behind us; leaving us in illusion and confusion. There is an intelligence in this film that I expect will become increasingly appreciated on second, third and fourth viewings. The speed of the film is consistently changing as we rush through certain scenarios at an energetic pace before watching one event unfold for several minutes. The plot, or at least what I could fathom of it, is highly complicated. This contrasts beautifully with the simplistic approach to the actual making of the film. Certain scenes would rely entirely on the performances; a still camera simply documenting the events that are unfolding. Other times, the camera appeared responsible for framing and capturing a scene or story. It could have so easily been a frustrating film to watch but the story unfolds at just the right moments; keeping me captivated and concerned for the character. Despite its lack of answers, Upstream Colour remains one of the most petrifying and seductive films I have seen this year. It is altogether unnerving. You have been warned.
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