Upstream Color (2013) Movie Review


Upstream Color is an epic trailer of very internal emotions, experimental expressions and sensual feelings. There seem to be more lens flares than plot points and actors often looked as confused as I was. Sporadic focus drowns most of the movie in shallow depth of field and Upstream Color is further estranged from convention as it was seemingly edited by a very angry Edward Scissorhands. For a movie with colour in the title, there is very little colour in it and at times it seems to be more about sound. I still don’t know if avoiding to sync dialogue creates more depth, but I have found more proof that writer, director, producer, editor, actor, composer films are often troubled by internalising their message and making it strangely inaccessible to their audience. It would remain complete poetry it if wasn’t for the final act, which invites us to find a way out of its emotionally charged maze of confused love and personal loss. It is a beautiful mess of ideas; an intimate insight into the filmmakers process, showing us the raw philosophical fragments of his creative mind. This is a courageous way to piece together a movie. Then, there are the many, many close ups. They further distract the viewer from piecing together the story by putting more emphasis on and meaning into irrelevant objects. Sometimes however, they are essential clues. It is like a search, like our daily search for the meaning of our own lives. But instead of continuing this tiring search, we are tempted to love something rhythmic and uncertain for two hours. Unsurprisingly, critics had a field day praising the bold, anti-mainstream cinematic approach. An uncategorisable original with no clear genre. It alienates common movie goers, leaving a cloud of beauty and confusion in their heads. The whole time I was waiting for it to begin, to fall off its wild horse and commit to itself, even explain itself. Of course I was waiting in vain. It has been compared to Eternal Sunshine Of A Spotless Mind, but it may be more like Eternal Confusion Of An Elusive Movie or a very adult version of Babe. I believe in Caruth and hope he isn’t headed for a downstream career and can loop back in time with the machine from Primer and try again. He has a lot of talent and I hope he hasn’t removed himself too far from a paying audience with his abstract stitching of visual art pieces, which barely hide the sometimes incomprehensible plot. Yes, parasites are bad; life can be terrible; problems hard to deal with alone; love is mostly confusing; and we must break the cycle of evil together and do good. But why?

Like a child I found myself asking why do they hardly speak, why is the farmer recording weird sounds, why are there pigs in this movie, why does everyone throw their papers away, why did she cut her hair, why did he drown the baby pigs, why are they in the bathtub, who is the red head woman? I have no answers for these questions.

I have however learned:

Why editing with Final Cut X is a bad idea.
Don’t always cast minorities as the bad guys.
It’s best to avoid people on late night trains.
Don’t get involved with girls that can quote entire books.
Late night swimming is weird.
Bird-watching is boring.
Pigs are awesome.
Yellow is better than blue.
Ice water really isn’t that good.
Worms are bad.
Don’t fuck with blue flowers.
There is one of us in every pig.
And, we must kill the farmer that drowns our bacon.

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