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: http://goo.gl/LecE1m
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.
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]
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.
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.
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...
★★★★ "We are conscious of the animal in us, which awakens in proportion as our higher nature slumbers. It is reptile and sensual, and perhaps cannot be wholly expelled; like the worms which, even in life and health, occupy our bodies." Thoreau.