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2,048 Ratings

Upstream Color

Directed by Shane Carruth
United States, 2013
Drama, Sci-Fi, Mystery


A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.

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Upstream Color Directed by Shane Carruth

Awards & Festivals

Sundance Film Festival

2013 | Winner: Special Jury Award for Sound Design (US Dramatic Competition)

Independent Spirit Awards

2014 | 2 nominations including: Best Director

In the spirit of Barthes’ S/Z which opens by reflecting, ‘[t]here are said to be certain Buddhists whose ascetic practices enable them to see a whole landscape in a bean’, I will condense my focus on Upstream Color to Kris’ surfacing from the depths of the pool… I propose that, like Kris, we dive down again, into the film, to consider the relevance of this concept to our own moment, and the various paths we use to think about meaning migration…
March 23, 2015
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For daring to carve out its own territory on the frontier, and for insisting on the concreteness of its own symbological inventions, Carruth’s may be the American arthouse film of the year – if in fact one could say with any certainty what it exactly is. Perhaps we could characterise it as experimental – not in the familiar sense of an avant-gardist work but literally an experiment seeking answers, exploring the possible future of narrative film…
August 30, 2013
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Carruth’s impeccable use of lighting and framing can recall avant-garde masters like Dorsky and Beavers at times… But more than this, it does what dreams do, and what Kris’s altered condition has done — to make a religious fetish out of a banal object, to invest it with magical meaning.
August 13, 2013
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What are people saying?

  • smndvdcl's rating of the film Upstream Color

    5 minutes from the end - "this film was either utter nonsense or absolute genius" - I was yet to decide which. Non-linear narratives have another emphasis - ambiguous cause/effect & mood over form. With just enough coherence to coalesce disparate strands, it can work. While Carruth may have seized more creative opportunities if he deprioritised his Roeg/Malick/Lynch affectations, there is still much to admire here.

  • Huey McEvoy's rating of the film Upstream Color

    It seems churlish to be nonplussed by a film directed, produced, written, edited and scored by its leading man for 50 grand. But where 'Primer' (like 'Pi','Clerks' and other 'stick-it-on-the-credit-card' landmarks before it) forged its own distinctive style, Upstream Color seems so in thrall to its stylistic Mallickisms that it forgets there's a thrilling plot at heart - a metaphysical detective [contd. in comments]

  • Amy Basil's rating of the film Upstream Color

    Let’s rhyme not reason: a lyrical review of Shane Carruth’s UPSTREAM COLOR. People will laud, people will decry. It’s not a question of what, how or why. But the power and push, to the creatively autonomous. Okay, it’s a soft rhyme. But you get my point. The film is elliptical, the film is infuriating, intoxicating and pretentious. Maybe it’s even an allegory for the insanity and... cont:

  • HenriqueA's rating of the film Upstream Color

    Carruth is a good kind of pretentious artist. The problem is when he focuses too much on his underwritten charachters played by sub-standard actors. A very strong first act and a puzzling and effecting tthird act are almost thrown to trash by a very weak middle section.

  • Joe Hackman's rating of the film Upstream Color

    Certainly a unique film, and deserves credit there, but it doesn't makes sense and I don't really feel like watching it again to try and fix that. After some research, the plot became more clear, but almost nothing connected emotionally for me with this film. Trying desperately to make a smart movie, Carruth jumbles things up too much, and accidentally dumbs his movie down in the process.

  • Palmat's rating of the film Upstream Color

    I hate it when a director makes an allegorical movie just for the sake of the allegory. Here there is no point for allegory, just a way to dress the movie up and making it more art-house. Carruth could have made this movie way more successful had he not been either clueless about what kind of movie he was making, or just really full of himself. Really disappointed with this one.

  • Duncan Gray's rating of the film Upstream Color

    A triumph of atmosphere, edited with exactitude and full of details that loop back on each other to form an irrational, self-contained whole. It may reach for more than it can deliver, and casting himself was a mistake on Carruth's part. But this is such an intriguing and well-crafted film that I'll still be turning it over in my mind long after cleaner, neater, tighter films have floated away. 4 out of 5 stars.

  • film_lies101's rating of the film Upstream Color

    First 20, 30 minutes are intriguing then quickly becomes less so as the film wears on. The biggest fault overall is in the editing, Carruth should give that duty up entirely to another person. My second biggest complaint is that there is simply no chemistry between the two leads and connection established between them is kinda glossed over. The Sound Design is pretty badass though...

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