Upstream Color: Art-House Science Fiction


Upstream Color is a 2013 science fiction film directed by Shane Carruth, who also plays a major part in the film. The film is one part con artist/thief and two parts science fiction. Here is the description from Amazon: A woman is abducted and hypnotized with an organic material harvested from a specific flower. When she falls for a man the two come to realized he may also have been subjected to the same process.

What was left out of the description (and this is minor spoiler territory) is the parasite introduced via the "organic material" and the "same process" doesn't explain much, but the two were abducted so a thief could rob them blind. The two fall for each other and try to put their lives back together, but the concoction they ingested has them recalling experiences they both shared and bonds them. I won't write anything more on the plot, but this film is beautiful and touching, but also ugly and disturbing.

If you prefer your science fiction (or film watching experience in general) spoon-fed to you, this film isn't for you. It's not even that surreal, certainly not in the same way as a Luis Buñuel or David Lynch film is surreal, but it is challenging, and I'm sure the long stretches without dialogue will turn some people off. I do not believe this slows the pace of the film, as the visuals are fascinating and thought-provoking. Upstream Color is both visceral and blunted at the same time, sharp, yet unfocused depending on what Carruth is attempting to get across.

Carruth not only directed the film, but wrote the soundtrack (which suits the film perfectly and would be a great soundtrack to have on in the background as I'm writing).

If you want something a little different from your science fiction, give this film a try. If you're a Hulu Plus subscriber, it's available for streaming there, or you can rent on Amazon.