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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sean Kelly

My Thoughts on Upstream Color

UpstreamColor

I should probably preface by saying that Upstream Color is quite a difficult film to fully understand on a single viewing.  I’ve tried my best to process the film and I have a rough idea what it is about.  However, this is really a film that you need to see multiple times to fully get.  Since I don’t have that luxury, I am going to do my best to give my opinions on what I understand about the film.

Upstream Color is a film with a vague science fiction premise, directed by Shane Carruth (Primer).  The main plot seems to centre around a drug extracted from these worms, which seems to heighten a person’s senses.  Kris (Amy Seimetz) is drugged with one of these worms by a stranger, who subsequently steals all her savings.  She later meets and romances a man named Jeff (Carruth) and they find that they share similar memories with each other.  Also central the plot is a farmer (Andrew Sensenig), who extracts parasites from drugged people and transfers them to pigs.

In that very brief plot synopsis, I haven’t even scratched the surface of Upstream Color.  I’m still having quite a difficult time processing the exact details of the plot and how all the scenes tie into each other.  The film uses a very abstract storytelling style, which is not unlike a Terrence Malick film.  No information is explicitly given and it is left to the viewer to figure out the film.  That is why the film will likely benefit from multiple viewings.  Even if you are able to grasp the basis plot outline, there is no way this entire story can be understood on a single viewing.

One element of the film that sticks out is the use of the book Walden; Or Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau.  There are a number of scenes in the film where the characters are shown reading or reciting passages from the book.  I’m not sure if the book is a key to understanding Upstream Color as a whole, but it is probably a good place to start.

There is not really all that much more that I can say about Upstream Color.  I can probably say that I liked the film, even though I don’t fully understand what happened in it.  This is definitely a thinking person’s movie and not really a film that you will go to for casual entertainment.  That said, I do look forward to eventually rewatching the film and figuring out exactly what the hell is going on.

8 | LIKED IT

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).