Upstream Color (2013) (Not Rated)

"Upstream Color" is the most complex and enigmatic movie I've ever seen. I'm sure you've heard the phrase "you've never seen anything like it"—usually, it's graffitied on to the end of some brash commercial that is enticing viewers to come experience something new. But I assure you that if you watch "Upstream Color" you will never, ever look at movies the same way.
This movie is a herald to what independent film makers can achieve. It's got all the telltale signs of an indie film: the short focus depth of field in which it is pleasantly filmed, the lead actress (virtually an unknown until now), the writer/director also starring in his work, and a love story that is decidedly non-mainstream. Yes, at first, "Upstream Color" appears to be a hipster movie.
But then, it's impossible to follow.
I dare you, I double dare all of you movie fans to watch this movie. If you come back with answers, unfortunately I won't believe you.
"Upstream Color" is impossible to understand, its mysteries are never quite clearly spelled out and there is no clean reveal that gives chills or satisfaction. But this film doesn't demand a reveal because it's not about the reveal. It becomes more and more about two lovers who are trapped in a world of madness and will do whatever it takes to restore order.
"Upstream Color" is hypnotic in more than one way, if you watch the movie you'll understand what I mean.
This film is what is so desperately needed: a movie that uses actors who may not be big names but can create beautiful performances.
Shane Carruth is the man behind the curtain—he's the writer, director, producer, and actor. Does it seem selfish to give himself the part? Not really because he is not the central character.
Amy Seimetz plays the lead girl, perfectly so. Her confidence is traded in for insecurity which delves into madness and then meets with compliance.
This movie is absolutely not for everyone. I can see how it would be frustrating, since it's irrational and unexplainable.
"Upstream Color" is the "2001: A Space Odyssey" of the 21st century. This is a future cult classic in the making, sure to be analyzed and picked apart.
What could have been filmed as a science fiction movie, a horror film, a mystery, or a romance picture found a way to combine elements of all of the above and blend itself a new genre. It's impossible to stick "Upstream Color" in a box, don't even try.
The cinematography, editing, scoring, and execution of "Upstream Color" all have to be applauded—they're almost flawless.
You get the feeling halfway through the movie that much of it is metaphorical, indeed it could be—but then again, maybe not.
What is it about modern day television that demands complete and total justification, gratification, and resolution? That's certainly not what real life is like. Maybe we like movies because they allow us to escape into a fantasy world where questions are always answered. Even in movies with sad endings, there are rarely loose strings hanging down—the strings that are visible are said to be amateur and weaknesses. It takes a brave film maker to show his audience that he is purposely leaving those stings hanging out, a visionary man—and Shane Carruth is just that man.
The film that keeps popping back up in my mind is the most recent Terrence Malick movie "To the Wonder" because it resembles "Upstream Color" is several ways. The lack of answers is one way, and the cinematic beauty is another. Yet "Upstream Color"  is more complex and less philosophical.
Because the plot isn't twined up nicely, we are left like the main character—bewildered, confused; but most of all...content.

Score: 4 out of 4 stars

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