Upstream Color

Shane Carruth didn’t make a movie between 2004’s Primer and this year’s Upstream Color. In the intervening nine years, I’m not sure how he spent his time. But his new movie is gorgeous and mysterious, and well worth the wait.

It’s almost impossible to describe Upstream Color’s plot, and I don’t quite know why. It’s not incredibly experimental or nonlinear, and I’m sure you could analyze the heck out of it, both logically and philosophically. But it hooked me on a cellular level, the way David Lynch’s movies do. Like Lynch’s work, Carruth’s movies make sense to my guts and my DNA, even when my brain says “Hunh?”.

Upstream Color is a horror movie, a love story, a science fiction film, and a fantasy. It is about mind control, about codependency in relationships, about physical and emotional attraction, about the way humans abuse each other’s trust and the trust of other animals. It is about Henry David Thoreau’s desire to live deliberately. It is about parasites, pigs, abduction, rape, and marriage. I saw it with my buddy Alex, and he summarized it in two words: “Psychedelic bacon.” Once you see it, you’ll know exactly what he means.

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