Review: Upstream Colour / Cert: 12 / Director: Shane Carruth / Screenplay: Shane Carruth / Starring: Shane Carruth, Amy Seimetz, Andrew Sensenig, Thiago Martins / Release Date: December 30th
Shane Carruth's follow-up to the complex Primer doesn't go easy on any audience refusing to approach the film with an open mind.
Upstream Colour starts with a woman called Kris (Seimetz) being drugged with a parasite that alters her mental state. This makes her highly suggestible and vulnerable to the man who drugged her (Martins), who systematically robs her of her life savings through a series of carefully plotted distractions and instructions.
She later meets Jeff (Carruth), a man who reveals himself to be equally damaged. They connect on such a level that they begin to remember each other's childhood memories and feel each other's pain. As the two rebuild their lives, they struggle to come to terms with and understand what has happened. Meanwhile, a pig farmer (Sensenig) searches for the parasites and the victims, using a range of infrasonic sounds that attracts them.
It's no surprise that Upstream Colour is somewhat perplexing. Beautifully shot and mesmerising, it focuses on exploring its themes and imagery rather than delivering the sort of cohesive and satisfying narrative favoured by the mainstream. Sound plays an important part in the film, and there are several edits and repeated camera shots from different angles, often drawing attention to the seemingly small details of facial expressions and hand gestures, all of which contribute to the film's unique ambience. The cycle of the parasite is explored along with the connections between the main characters and the consequences of their actions.
There is something of a conclusion, and while the lack of answers and explanation given can be frustrating, the film is mesmerising enough to carry the viewer through.