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81

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

User Score
6.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 101 Ratings

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. 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.
  2. Reviewed by: Rodrigo Perez
    Feb 5, 2013
    100
    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
    90
    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
    80
    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
    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.
  6. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Apr 4, 2013
    80
    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
    60
    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: 16 out of 29
  2. Negative: 11 out of 29
  1. 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 whenThis 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. 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.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. Expand
  3. 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 bestYes, 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
  4. 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 itThis 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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  5. 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. ThisAlmost 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
  6. 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 willUpstream 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
  7. 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 EVERYDon'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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See all 29 User Reviews

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