Movie Review: Upstream Color

Movie Title: Upstream Color

Director: Shane Carruth

Stars: Amy Seimetz, Shane Carruth

Release Date: 2013

This film follows Amy (Seimetz), a successful, young graphic designer, who is the victim of a uniquely disturbing crime, which she has no memory of but is left to deal with the fallout. As she attempts to put her life back together, she meets Jeff (Carruth), who appears to have been a victim of the same crime.  As their romantic relationship develops, they attempt to rebuild their lives together. Over the course of their relationship the lines between their individuality blur.

This film is definitely on the more artistic side of contemporary movies. For that reason, some may find it difficult to follow. Indeed, it may require a critical viewing in order to interpret meaning from the film. That being said, this movie addresses several interesting themes. One such theme is the interconnectedness that exists between us and the world in which we inhabit. In the film, this is portrayed in the way that the characters interact with each other as well as their parallels in the animals shown in the movie. Another interesting theme is the cyclical nature of life and how difficult it can be to break the cycle of our self-destructive natures. This cyclical nature is not confined to the micro level, but also applies to the macro level. In the film, many people play a part in the cycle of victimization that begins the film and can only continue with each person playing their part.

The film went to great lengths to make sound a prominent feature throughout the movie. Its use was particularly effective in portraying what certain textures would feel like if the viewer were able to touch them; hands sliding over skin, for example. Other, more novel uses of sound are also found in the film.

Of course, one of the most original features of the film is the way in which Kris and Jeff (as well as many others) were victimized. Though it might seem far-fetched, the mere possibility should elicit a sense of discomfort or fear in the viewer.

As interesting the film and its themes may be, Upstream Color will likely be limited to a niche audience due to its unconventional methods. This is unfortunate as it offers a healthy dose of originality in a film industry saturated with vanilla remakes and prequels that are lacking in substance.


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