• Studio:
  • Release Date:

Universal acclaim - based on 27 Critics What's this?

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 81 Ratings

Your Score
0 out of 10
Rate this:
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
  • 0
  • 0
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. Reviewed by: Trevor Johnston
    Aug 27, 2013
    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.
  2. Reviewed by: Rodrigo Perez
    Feb 5, 2013
    You may not be able to figure it out, but that's part of the point of this sensually-directed, sensory-laden experiential (and experimental) piece of art that washes over you like a sonorous bath of beguiling visuals, ambient sounds and corporeal textures.
  3. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Apr 25, 2013
    It’s all a neat trick. Or exercise. Or brain-teaser. Whatever you want to call it, Upstream Color is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. But once you have seen it, once isn’t going to be enough
  4. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Feb 5, 2013
    Upstream Colors certainly is something to see if you’re into brilliant technique, expressive editing, oblique storytelling, obscuritanist speculative fiction or discovering a significant new actress.
  5. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    Aug 26, 2013
    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.
  6. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Apr 4, 2013
    So Upstream Color is defiantly pitched in its own idiosyncratic key, but it bears the unmistakable influence of Carruth’s fellow Texan Terrence Malick and also of Steven Soderbergh’s early films.
  7. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Apr 2, 2013
    No one is going to explain any of this for you — and the slightly snobby implication of Upstream Color is that explanations are for suckers.

See all 27 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 25
  2. Negative: 10 out of 25
  1. Jun 28, 2013
    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. Expand
  2. Jun 11, 2013
    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). Expand
  3. Jul 22, 2013
    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."). Expand
  4. Oct 27, 2013
    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.
  5. Jun 15, 2013
    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
  6. May 15, 2013
    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. Expand
  7. Nov 19, 2013
    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! Expand

See all 25 User Reviews


Related Articles

  1. 2013 Film Critic Top Ten Lists

    2013 Film Critic Top Ten Lists Image
    Published: December 8, 2013
    Throughout the coming weeks, we'll be collecting year-end top ten lists from dozens of movie critics and publications. Browse the individual lists and view our composite rankings inside.