• Studio: erbp
  • Release Date: Apr 5, 2013
User Score
6.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 90 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 67 out of 90
  2. Negative: 21 out of 90

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  1. Jun 8, 2014
    0
    Don't be fooled by the high critic reviews, this movie is pretentious dribble. Very dull and no plot. Awful. It is also curious how EVERY review by critics on metacritic is positive. A simple search shows that there are negative critical reviews but metacritic doesn't publish these, why? Metacritic has a review from the guardian but another reviewer from the guardian wrote "(Upstream color) turned out to be a baffling, opaque mess" and gave it 2/5. That is curiously not mentioned on this cite and instead the movie has "universal acclaim". See: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/jan/23/sundance-festival-upstream-color-first-look-review .

    To sum up: this "movie" is dreadful and there seems to be an agenda to make it appear that it is well-received. Though who do rate the movie highly are pretentious idiots.
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  2. Jan 12, 2014
    7
    Almost a decade after his befuddling debut PRIMER (2004, 6/10), UPSTREAM COLOR, the jack-of-all-trades Shane Carruth’s greatly anticipated second film arrives with a splashy strut to renounce himself as a flash in the pan because it is a more ambitious, mythological and introspective dissection of a preternatural communications among life forms (in particular, human, pigs, grubs and lilies).

    A young woman Kris (Seimetz) abducted by a thief (Martins), who plants parasitic grubs into her body, hypnotically mind-controls her and embezzles all her money from the bank; after the thief left, a mysterious swineherd aka. The Sampler (Sensenig) removes the grubs out of her system, grafts them inside a piglet, therefore forms an uncanny interrelation between Kris and the piglet, then releases Kris back to her normal life, through the piglet the Sampler can observe his specimen in his pig farm. Afterward, Kris meets Jeff (Carruth himself), and they bond together romantically, filters through their trips and spats, spectators will realize Jeff is another sample, their memories intermingle with each other, Kris suffers from auditory hallucinations, both slip into mental instability. Later on, things emerge to a crescendo, they trace the path to the Sampler’s farm and all the human guinea pigs are assembled to reunite with their porcine linkages.

    My account may not be 100% accurate as in Carruth’s narrative everything is shattered in fragments and the film is overcrowded with inexplicable behavioral quirks and environmental drifts, the exhausting duologue with abstruse drabness doesn’t help either. But it is the originality that being salient here to broaden our horizons within a micro Sci-Fi scale, Carrith’s execution may be controversial for what it is worth suggested from his two films so far, without doubt he is a mastermind with transcendental imagination which is a rare bird in the woods of derivativeness and stereotypes.

    The Sampler in the movie is also a sound collector, so consistently there are protruding sound effects abound, from lower bass humming, crispy ding-dong, intangible rumbling to tepid string droning, married with mannered montages drenched in dazzling timber, if this isn’t an epitome of equivocality between highbrow solipsism and ostentatious narcissism, I cannot think anything else.

    Amy Seimetz (from THE KILLING Season 3) is the unwavering leading lady in this film, gives a performance seething with unpredictable neurosis, breakdowns, helplessness and determination. While Carruth, the director, writer, cinematographer, composer and actor, whom one just cannot avoid be awed and overpraising.

    Obviously like PRIMER, it is another film ramifies dissonant readings and interpretations, but if it will ever reach the criterion of prime precedents like Mulholland Dr. (2001, 9/10), an earnest advice to Mr. Carruth, getting out of the esoteric comfort zone a little, demystifying the undecipherable a bit and taking a deep breath before editing the fodder.
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  3. Jan 3, 2014
    8
    After 9 years from his first directional venture, 'Primer' director came up with this challenging concept in science fiction theme. I think it is an underrated movie of the year. Good story but a little confusing to understand the story flow like the movie 'The Tree of Life'. Sometime it is hard to know which comes first and what portions fit where. Especially I am still not able to get how the shooting at the end takes place.

    Like I said the time and places were playing the tricks on the viewers. Giving an attention while a watch is the best one can nab what the director is wanting to tell us in his movie. That means it is not a message movie but a brain twisting science-fiction with art form connecting to the life cycle of the earth. You might remember the movie 'The Golden Compass', where every human is connected with other living creatures other than his own type. (That was fictional fantasy but this one is told on the backdrop of biology.) Yeah that is where this story is very near to get connect with to explain in a simple way, other than complicated ones like 'The Tree of Life' and '2001: A Space Odyssey'.

    The movie is visually enjoyable because of a fine photography which looked a lot like a dream that happening right now. So the only question I am eager to ask the director is as capable to narrate the story with a powerful tool then why should he take a decade to make another one. I believe he will come up with something extraordinary than his first two in very short time. I don't care if he on boards big name actors or fresh faces but looking forward to his next venture. Looks like he's the man to look out in the future from the director's chair.
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  4. Dec 17, 2013
    8
    One of the weirdest movies I have ever seen Highly influenced by terrance malick's technique the director creates a world to be lost in. You may not understand all of what you see Ain't life like that too but it surrounds you with its meticulous direction and naturalism The movie is a sci fi movie but unlike generic modern sci fi movies that depend only on visual effects this one stimulate your brain and your senses as well Expand
  5. Dec 1, 2013
    0
    I think the most disturbing thing about this site is probably seen in the reaction to movies like this. I could see how this would be a divisive movie. It is not traditional, it feels long (even if it's only 90 minutes), it is oblique, etc. So if this received a number of diverse reviews from critics, that would be understandable. Of course, it hasn't received anything like a diverse reaction. There are currently 27 critic reviews, and not a single one is negative (at least to be judged by the color red). That is odd. Really odd. And I don't think it's unnatural that a lot of users have questioned why that is. There is obviously something that is causing reviewers to give this movie a pass. It should at least be divisive, but not amongst the critics, I guess. I like to maybe believe that it's because critics have seen so many movies that anything different is appreciated even when the different on display is not necessarily good. That said, I think a lot of darker explanations are probably more on point.

    I wanted to like this movie. The cinematography and the way a few scenes are pieced together is undoubtedly beautiful. I enjoyed the first 30 minutes. I did not need a standard narrative or any sort of coherent conclusion. At the same time, I'm not interested in the 30 last minutes of agony I saw through before the credits. I was truly struggling not to walk out. It was to that level of pain. It's not that the movie wasn't interesting. It's not that the movie didn't have a few commendable components. But seriously, this was not well done. It evinced almost no storytelling skill. It seemed like a basically untalented storyteller''s attempt to be relevant after he realized he didn't have the talent to tell a story conventionally. That's a guess. I could be wrong. At the same time, I cannot understand how 27 of 27 critics seemed to see a completely (completely!) different film than I did.
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  6. Nov 19, 2013
    0
    Anyone who rates this pretentious garbage above 0 is a brainwashed idiot. This movie is a huge waste of time with no character development, terrible acting, and annoying music and sound effects. DON'T EVEN BOTHER!
  7. Nov 10, 2013
    10
    The film was visually stunning, the storytelling was very inventive, and the acting was superb. It was unlike any film I've ever seen before. It is definitely one of my favorite films of the year.
  8. Oct 27, 2013
    7
    This movie has a lot of mixed reviews. The critics love it because of its esoteric nature, and a lot of viewers hate it for how difficult it is to sit through, how little dialogue there is, and the difficulty of interpretation.

    I didn't care for Upstream Color as a film, but I did enjoy it quite immensely as a concept. Carruth chose an interesting method of storytelling where he puts
    the characters in a foreign space, and uses mostly visual and auditory motifs to explain the story and express the emotions of the characters. The movie contains extremely few bits of dialogue, and this can be off-putting to many viewers.

    I feel that this methodology is indeed intriguing, but I don't think it was executed quite as perfect as it could have been. For one, the music can be grating at times, with dull beats and elongated tones. This makes the visual storytelling difficult to bare. Carruth admits to having done most of the music himself, and I think he should have went with a professional on this.

    Secondly, although the visuals are somewhat interesting, at times they feel flat, as if the production wasn't quite up to mark. And since this is Carruth's main medium for storytelling in the movie, it lessens the experience if at least somewhat. There are some extremely beautiful scenes, but there are a lot of dull ones to sit through as well. In addition to that, the scenes often drag out, forcing you to flip from one character to the next, over and over until each scene is complete.

    And that's why it is difficult to rate this film any higher. There is so little dialogue in the movie, that at times you're painfully waiting for the next scene, but it takes forever to arrive. It's also painful in the regard that you care about these characters, so you're forced to endure their misery that much longer.

    The concept of the movie is brilliant. Carruth's Primer was excellent conceptually, and this is no different. The characters are almost other-worldly as a result of their experience, and it really comes through in the storytelling and acting. The story itself is smart, universal, and resonant. And despite the aforementioned misfires, there's a very interesting film that has to at least be seen and understood to be fully appreciated for what it is. And make no mistake, Carruth is breaking new ground on this one both in terms of storytelling and the story itself.

    However the story is very difficult to understand if you miss any visual cues, and since there are so many of them, that's easy to do. The movie often becomes schizophrenic, frantically flipping from one character to the next, but showing those characters doing the most mundane of things, all of which are actually important to the story.

    To fully understand the film, you really have to be on top of your game and paying close attention to detail. I think ultimately that's what makes this a good film, if not a great one. If you are on top of your game, and you can bare some of the longer pieces with no dialogue, then you are rewarded with a solved mystery that speaks to the human condition. And the film is saturated with theme and symbolism, which is one of the benefits of actually taking part in it, as opposed to reading a synopsis.

    I think for me to have fully enjoyed this film things would have had to speed up a bit. There are times, most notably the last half hour of the movie where it just drags on and on, and these bits could have been cut out or shortened dramatically. Though admittedly, this is a new form of storytelling for me, so perhaps my brain simply isn't used to being patient with this type of storytelling.

    I would recommend against watching this movie if you're looking for something as engaging as Primer, but are not willing to sit through a quasi-silent film for whatever the run time is. If you don't mind trying something new, and are curious about the untapped genius that is Carruth, there are some precious and beautiful moments to be had here, however cumbersome it was to illuminate them.
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  9. Sep 11, 2013
    8
    Writing a review about Upstream Color implies I have gotten as much as I possibly want from the film out of it but that couldn't be further from the truth as truly understanding this stream of conscious thought would take more than a few watches and honestly I don't think my wallet can take the enlightenment. When Kris (Amy Seimetz) is accosted by a mysterious stranger and implanted with a mind altering parasite, her ideal life is upended and the only thing that seems to return her to a modicome of normalcy is Jeff (Shane Carruth), a man who has been through a similar experience that she meets on a train. While the film does demand you fill in the films many plot holes with your own imagination, it isn't the same lazy storytelling technique that made Only God Forgives so intolerably stupid. The film sets a framework for the viewer, one that we must populate with our own thoughts, our own ideas about what it all means. Without our input and our sense of self this film wouldn't work. It's a special picture because no one sees the same thing or comes to the same conclusion. The connection Kris makes with this creature is a way of discussing not only the natural cycle of things on this planet but the concept of symbiosis, the coming together of two organisms and the bond the two form as they work with each other. This is something interpreted by Kris and Jeff's importance to each other but also through Kris' relationship to the parasite, something she cannot see but she knows somehow is there. Seimetz proves herself one to watch as she brings out so much in a dialogue light script. Her actions tell a wealth of story while leaving as much to self interpretation as possible. It's an exercise in expanding your mind but also in letting go and enjoying a trippy but complex love story between not only a man and a woman but a woman and a parasite. Expand
  10. Aug 27, 2013
    9
    This is innovation of cinema A beautiful film, a unique film. The soundtrack the cinematography, all is completely beautiful, i see it like an experience. A Incredible experience.
  11. Jul 22, 2013
    9
    A real filmmaker with original vision, Carruth has followed up the brilliant "Primer" with an equally perplexing, intriguing and captivating film. What T. Malick tried with horrible results to create in "Tree of Life," Carruth has succeeded in, particularly by being a man of science rather than a man of faith (nods to "Lost.").
  12. Jul 4, 2013
    9
    Read my review of Upstream Color here: http://briansfinas.com/review-of-shane-carruths-upstream-color/

    An excerpt from the review:

    The actress in this film, Amy Seimetz is not spectacular. I hate to make this comparison, but in Primer the film was about Abe and David Sullivan gave a performance that just blew my mind. Carruth perfectly supported him as Aaron. In this film, Carruth
    again plays the perfect supporting role, but Seimetz can’t quite hit all the notes. There are scenes where she is admittedly great, and I can see what Carruth must’ve seen in her when casting his female lead, but amid what is a really flawless composition, she stands out as a bruise on the peach. Expand
  13. Jun 30, 2013
    0
    I LOVED Primer. It was brilliant. This is an unwatchable mess. Dude's been reading his press clippings and believing he's the great genius of independent American cinema. DO NOT waste your time and money renting this thing.
  14. Jun 28, 2013
    10
    This is an absolutely amazing movie. If you've seen and liked Primer, you'll like this too. The true greatness of the writing is evident when 45 minutes in, you're still wondering what's going on, and you haven't gotten bored. I put a lot of movies back after 20 minutes, because there's no hook in the writing. But this has a hook. It's ethereal. It's emotional. It's beautiful.
  15. Jun 15, 2013
    3
    Shane Carruth's second film "Upstream Color" is just as obtuse and bewildering as "Primer". This guy is never going mainstream with this style; when most people including me have to spend nearly as much time as the film in Reddit (or Slate or io9) trying to understand it then that's a failed film style. It's as if he films a story that makes sense then edits out all the connective pieces, the essentials that tie one scene to another. We understand cause and effect, but in his films he removes or distorts the cause and you're just left with effects. I.don't.like.that. Good luck if you attempt to watch Expand
  16. Jun 11, 2013
    10
    The last shot of this film? Breathtaking, amazing, heartwarming--you name it. Loved this film a lot, (even though I might not fully understand what the actual hell was happening half the time).
  17. Jun 9, 2013
    2
    A dull non-narrative film that attempts to lure you into hidden depths which are shallow and unsatisfying. Plot threads are presented and abandoned. The characters are undeveloped, unsympathetic victims of a situation that neither they nor the audience understand.

    The movie keeps suggesting at some sort of resolution it never, ever delivers. An excellent film for philosophy majors
    who want to pontificate about cinema, and a terrible bore for everyone else. I can get behind non-narrative film-making and intricate plots, but this is only the former hinting at and avoiding the latter. Expand
  18. May 15, 2013
    1
    I would say this is the worst film i've seen this year, except that it isn't really a film at all, at least not by the usual definition. There is no real plot, close to zero acting on display, and is almost as interesting as watching paint dry. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to collect a bunch of film clips of the same people, sometimes doing familiar things, and at other times doing strange things that make no sense and string them together in a random array such that any hope of an audience actually following something akin to a story would be impossible? Yeah, me neither. Do yourself a favor, skip this one. Collapse
  19. May 9, 2013
    2
    Upstream Color is a hostile film, one that presents you with puzzling events and unsettling imagery and seemingly hopes that curiosity will keep you watching. The problem is that, in my opinion, it really doesn't do much to build that curiosity in the first place. The viewer literally gets about five minutes to get to know Kris before she gets abducted, which really isn't enough to establish any sort of identification or compassion. Add to that annoying five-second cuts and that terrible, terrible synopsis and you get the feeling that Carruth is flashing the troll face when you're not looking. Perhaps critics do get the joke, but I certainly don't. Expand
  20. Apr 30, 2013
    4
    Almost a decade ago, Shane Carruth created "Primer," a low-budget sci-fi flick that developed a cult following for its complex ambiguity. This new one has a better quality look, arty even. It's edited with short cuts to keep it moving. But…the plot is totally obtuse. A man and woman have been part of some kind of enigmatic experiment involving a worm. There's also a guy who walks around recording sounds and tending to pigs. And "Walden." If you like to feel hip and love to dig deep for meaning, you're liable to find it perfect. Otherwise, there's lots of interesting imagery with no easy payoff. Expand
  21. Apr 25, 2013
    10
    A beautifully-shot, challenging ,and outstanding film. I'm going to check out Primer as soon as possible, and I'll try to catch this one again before it's theatrical run has concluded. I agree with most critics that trying to nail down the specific plot details is unnecessary to intuitively understanding and enjoying this film. Amy Seimetz is fantastic, and she plays well with Carruth. The elegant visuals, coupled with the very interesting score, make this a film like no other I've seen in a long while. Here's hoping that we'll see many more films from Carruth in the not-too-distant future. Expand
  22. Apr 22, 2013
    8
    Short version: Upstream Color is a good-but-flawed, puzzling, poetical, unusual movie. It's not easy to watch or digest, but will give you plenty to think and feel.
    * *
    Users have noted how flawed this movie is while (unkindly- cruelly even) rating it 0. Some very good critics (Zacharek among them) have given it lukewarm reviews. There is some truth to what they say. It is hard to
    follow, artsy-fartsy, and pretentious (as in: intellectual ambition failed, as separate from artsy-fartsiness). How severely to penalize an American movie in 2013 for these three flaws is an open question. For me, not one of these flaws, or all of them together, is as ugly as any one of the flaws we get most often in our movies, whether big-budget or indie or in between. It's not based on a franchise, it's not a vehicle for celebrities, it's not a recycled-story excuse for special effects or tear-jerking, it's not quirky and too cute by half, there's no particular exploitation of sex or violence, and the relatively happy ending is probably too troubling (in my interpretation) to call tacked-on, facile or restorative.

    Upstream Color is a good, unusual movie with a lot of unusual flaws. Piecing the story together takes place across the entire movie. The characters are the sort of two-dimensional types that are necessary for an allegory, especially one that's puzzling, lyrical, metaphorical and maybe deliberately inscrutable. you might love this movie. You might hate it. You will not have the same old movie experience.
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  23. Apr 16, 2013
    9
    Yes, it's a polarizing film, 4 people walked out 30 mins in, but it's a worthy successor to Carruth's debut, "Primer" and one of the best films in this early year. This reminds me of "The Tree of Life" in how many reviews bloat a "head-scratching" plot. However, it's really not that difficult. The elliptical editing similar to what Carruth achieved in his first, "Primer" warrants more time to fully understand the plot, but it's by no means, impossible. After first viewing, it's a telling tale of deception and retribution, a complex story of theft while tracking down those involved (however loosely) and creating a life from the wreckage the deceit involved. It's worth the investment and is different from anything from a major studio you'll ever see partially why it's self-distributed (by the director). Writer/director Shane Carruth, because of his stories' complexities and the depth at which his stories take viewers, including his willingness to self-distribute titles makes him one of the most important American directors even with only 2 films under his belt. See this film, so you can watch again to fully understand the plot. Expand
  24. Apr 14, 2013
    0
    Most critics have missed the symbolism. It's an allegory for the dictatorial control writers and directors have over their characters, and the problems that can arise because of it. But if anything this perception makes the movie worse. It highlights how much is truly arbitrary.
  25. Apr 14, 2013
    0
    Sometimes I think the less movie critics understand a movie the higher their ratings will be.
    This movie just proves my point. There is nothing to understand yet the ratings are through the roof.
    If I had to measure a level of confusion in a movie I would give this movie 10 out of 10 as well. But I do not think getting confused should be the reason why people go to movies. Artsy, maybe.
    Getting better near the end? Too bad, not everybody will stay that long watching God knows what… Expand
  26. Apr 10, 2013
    0
    The achievements of a filmmaker should not be measured by the amount of headscratching he is able to generate among his viewers, and yet this seems to be the criterium according to which most critics (with the laudably honest exception of Stephanie Zacharek) are willing to grant Carruth the benefit of the doubt. Upstream Color is, for all its putative ambition, shallowly developed, indiscriminately written, portentously paced, cast ridiculously and acted woefully. You won't spend two more irksome hours in front of a screen, small or large, anytime soon. Expand
Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Sep 2, 2013
    80
    It is invigoratingly freaky and strange, with a Death-Valley-dry sense of humour somewhere underneath — though a little derivative sometimes. More than once, Carruth gives us a close-up on a hand ruminatively stroking a surface: very Malick. And the shots of creepy creatures swarming under the skin are very Cronenberg.
  2. Reviewed by: Trevor Johnston
    Aug 27, 2013
    100
    If you’ve ever sat at your desk wondering whether there’s more to life, or been kept awake by an insidious hum in the darkness, this will speak to your soul – even as its enveloping, disturbing, uplifting story sends your mind reeling with giddy possibilities.
  3. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    Aug 26, 2013
    80
    How to sum up? You have to make synapse-spark connections, interpret events to your own satisfaction, pick up visual cues (a long stretch of the film is dialogue-free) and be happy with not knowing all the answers (you know, like in life — but not in most motion pictures). A perfectly judged, strikingly beautiful film, but also a lunatic enterprise which invites — even welcomes — befuddlement as much as wonder. A true original.