Saturday, January 30, 2016

Review: Upstream Color (2013)

The movie is a rape drug the size of a volleyball.

Carruth takes a different approach to his Primer followup, taking all of that heady sci-fi exposition and going outside-in, primarily through the characters' actions, match-cutting and dream logic transportation. Like his last film (a mere nine years prior), every second is important so you better be paying attention. Unlike his last film, Upstream Color is void of questionable technical decisions. This is still a micro-budget production but there is no parallel equivalent of setting an important dialogue scene in the middle of a goddamned fountain.

A sonofabitch of first act shows us the bizarre life cycle of a hallucinogenic organism and how you can use it to destroy a woman's life. Much of the film afterwards is a near-montage of two characters, still in a strange daze, trying to rebuild. On a faster track with more viscera, this is a horror flick, a painting of an impersonal universe that doesn't care what you've built, what you've lost, or how much you suffer.

The result of all this is an intensely emotional experience, one that arouses your sympathy for human beings and also pigs. It stands against Primer in that regard, a movie you had to really fight through to get any bottom-up sentiment out of, but does lose on any top-down surprises. Watching the slow rise and fall of a confusing relationship is a necessary part of the movie and the direction it heads, while emotionally satisfying, is not so much logically.

Dip me in medicine and watch me smoke.

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