Upstream Color ★★★★½

Filtering into the audience’s eyes and minds like an eerie kind of infection, Shane Carruth’s second feature suspends the viewer in its dream-state of loose association and surreal concepts.

It’s a film unafraid to be utterly filmic, using sound and vision in non-conventional ways to construct mood as a storytelling element. While Amy Seimetz and Carruth play the hesitant connection and eventual romance between these damaged, unsure characters with heart and vulnerability, so many other elements of the film add to the story; the gorgeous cinematography, the colour palette, the score and sound design which works so well as to be a character in its own right.

One can draw a throughline of interest in how humans relate to the natural world connecting Carruth’s two features. If PRIMER is about the damage caused by running up against the hard, unyielding physical laws of the universe, then UPSTREAM is about the tension between accepting that we are simply biological organisms and reckoning with what consciousness means in light of that. Where does that intangible thing that makes us human reside? It’s richly ambiguous, and never less than gripping.

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