I HATED this movie, and so I'm going to give as much information about it as I can, in the hopes of saving spectators the loss of approximately 2 valuable hours of life.
While it pains me to admit it, Upstream Color was actually the film I was most excited to see going into the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. IMO, Shane Carruth's first film, Primer, was perhaps the best on-screen description of time travel ever made. I assumed Primer's success would have paved the way for Carruth to have more resources at his disposal, and with nearly a decade's lapse since Primer's release--he additionally has had plenty of time to craft a masterpiece. Instead, he made Upstream Color, a nearly silent film, with a plot so poorly constructed, even the writer/director himself was at a loss to explain it during a protracted, post-viewing Q&A session.
The film is divided into 3 sections. The first 1/3rd is the only part that is even remotely entertaining, with the subsequent parts feeling less like a planned movie, and more like a video project thrown together by a baret-wearing film student the night before it was due for class. The first section depicts a group of teenage boys who seem to be experimenting with a drug that is taken by swallowing a worm--similar to a tequila worm. After downing the worm, the boys engage in behavior that seems akin to a gang initiation, but with a somewhat supernatural element to it. The boys begin to perform martial arts moves while blind folded, and do so in perfect unison. This was short, interesting, and intriguing start to the story. Sadly, it is neither developed or explained in the rest of the film. After this pointless display, the story shifts to a woman named Kris, who is abducted and drugged with what seems to be the same worm-based drug from the gang kids. Only, her worm doesn't give her kung fu skills or telekinesis. Instead, she becomes completely brain washed by the guy who drugged her. The abductor proceeds to manipulate her into "giving" him all of her material wealth, and then he releases her after she's penniless. This marks the end of the first 1/3rd of the film, and the virtually the last time anything interesting happens.
In the second-third of the movie, we find Kris a shell of the person she was at the beginning, and she falls in love with a guy named Jeff. There seems to be virtually no chemistry between the two, and the only thing that seems to unite them is their weirdness from having been drugged with the worms. This marks the end of any notion a plot for the rest of the movie. For the remainder of the 2nd stanza and the entirety of the 3rd Act, there is virtually no dialogue (none at all for the last 30 minutes of the movie), and nothing but disconnected shots of people and animals (mostly pigs). There is a strange pig farmer, referred to in the credits as The Sampler, who seems to be the source of the worm drug, as well as a collector or random sounds. He never utters a word, and seems to be invisible to everyone but Kris, who shots him at the end, although it's unclear why.
Carruth said in the Q&A that he included countless shots of hands gliding past physical objects without touching them to simulate that to his characters, the substance of the world was just out of reach. He might as well has attached a prosthetic hand to the side of this movie, and shot it gliding past entertainment, but that was just out of reach too.
Action / Drama / Sci-Fi
Action / Drama / Sci-Fi
Kris is attacked one night, and hypnotized, using a grub with hypnotic properties, administered by a thief. She follows the thief's instructions to give him everything, even taking out loans. After the worms are extracted, she wakes up to find her life ruined. She's lost her job, her finances are destroyed. Years later, she meets Jeff whom she may have a lot in common with.
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April 26, 2013 at 06:26 PM