Film Review: Upstream Colour

Upstream Color

Upstream Colour is an experimental film which offers a meditative experience.

A graphic designer is drugged and infected with a parasite. This affects her life and behaviour. She connects with a man, and together they try to piece together their fragmented lives…

After a tentative start, Shane Carruth’s Upstream Colour gets going. The writer-director gives the audience a hook which is intriguing. The film does not spoon feed viewers, but offers a connection between different elements allowing them to piece together what they wish.

Upstream Colour does not follow a traditional narrative format. There are strands that flow throughout the film, but standard storytelling is absent. Upstream Colour is abstract at times, but never entirely surreal.

The film is successful in engaging the imagination, prompting viewers to consider the meaning of things on screen. Some minds will wonder, but this seems an acceptable outcome of proceedings. Others will be engaged in considering the overall meaning of the film.

There are several themes at play in Upstream Colour. Prominent of these is the relationship between the experienced and the imagined, which permeates the film. Elsewhere, there is an emphasis on the spherical, an idea that grows as the film progresses.

Sound is used to good effect in Carruth’s film. Cinematography is also a strong point, particularly the early close-up shots. Casting is good in Upstream Colour. Amy Seimetz offers a decent performance; her expressions work well. Other depictions, including Shane Carruth’s Jeff, are fitting.

Upstream Colour will not appeal to a wide audience, given its lack of narrative structure and reflective style. Those that give the film a chance should find Upstream Colour to be a pensive and worthwhile experience.