Upstream Color is much anticipated follow up to 2004s Primer, a brilliant experimental sciece fiction film from Shane Carruth. Like Primer it’s experimental, like Primer it’s thought provoking and original, and like Primer there’s basically nothing else I can say about why I like this movie without saying something about the movie that I feel would spoil the experience of seeing it for the first time.
That’s not to say that I’ll be spoiling the plot if you keep reading, but there’s aspects of this film other than the plot that I need to talk about to tell you why I like the film so much and I truly feel that going in as blind as possible is the best way to see it.
So let’s get this out of the way: I love this film and I recommend you see it. Stop reading now and go watch it and then come back and we’ll talk.
Ok, here we go.
Upstream Color is a triumph of show over tell. There is dialogue in the film but only enough to make sure we know what’s going on and what the characters are feeling but I’d go so far as to say that it’s not 100% necessary. In fact the first portion of the film in which an unnamed character prepares to overpower and abduct the main character, there is no dialogue but at no time was I ever left wondering what was going on.
The same is true of the last portion of the film; in the last 20 odd minutes there is no dialogue at all but it’s never unclear what the characters are doing or why they are doing it.
Which is kind of amazing.
It helps that Shane Carruth certainly has a distinct voice when it comes to his directing. The entire film is shot gorgeously and melds beautifully with the films score, also by Carruth. The pacing and transitions show a deft hand at editing which, surprise, is also handled by Carruth.
In an age when the average movie relies on scenes and scenes of exposition dialogue between it’s characters and in many cases even relies on the trope of one character being out of the loop so the rest can explain it to them, it’s kind of incredible to watch a film that guides you visually through it’s story.
Shane carruth has an interesting story, this is only his second film in 9 years. At some point I’m sure that studios are going to offer him all kinds of money to helm all kinds of projects but I hope that he turns them down and keeps doing his own thing because his own thing is pretty has twice now been pretty much the most refreshing cinema I’ve ever seen.
Rating = 10/10