Posted by: ckckred | August 3, 2013

Upstream Color


Upstream Color, director Shane Carruth’s follow-up to his indie breakout Primer, is a labyrinth of a movie, immersing its audience into a complex world.  Primer dealt with many of the same themes as Upstream Color, but seems much smaller compared to Carruth’s sophomore effort.

Unlike Primer, Upstream Color doesn’t have a linear narrative, instead taking a surreal, dream-like pace.  I’ll be honest that I have little idea what happened in Upstream Color, but I’ll try to sum up the story as best I can.  A man (known in the credits as “Thief” and played by Thiago Martins) harvests some worm-like creatures, which he puts in a medical capsule and feeds to Kris (Amy Seimeitz), who becomes hypnotized by him.  Thief controls Kris completely, what she sees, feels, and so on.  Soon another man (known as “The Sampler” and played by Andrew Sensenig) performs surgery on Kris and a pig, creating a mental link between them and freeing her from the brain control.  Later, Kris meets Jeff (Carruth), whom she develops a romance with.

Upstream Color is a film I feel needs to be taken in slowly.  It’s clear that the film has a far larger budget than Primer, as evident by more locations and greater production values.  Carruth’s direction has also improved much over his freshman movie; the camera movements are smoother, the cuts are more refined, and the pacing more even.  He approaches Upstream Color much differently than Primer.  Where he bombarded viewers with much dialogue and information in Primer, in Upstream Color Carruth never fully explains what’s going, seeming much like a dream itself.  It may be difficult for viewers to connect to Carruth’s characters, but, like Primer, I found myself amazed by the material.  Carruth knows what fascinates his fans and plays off the mystery of the story.  Upstream Color may not always know what it’s completely about, but it never fails to entertain.

Perhaps it gets a bit out of hand, but Upstream Color is a superb, intelligent thriller that proves Carruth is a great talent at blending sci-fi with realism.  It’ll be interesting to see what the director has in store next.



  1. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention, will certainly consider giving it a watch.

    • No problem. This is a great movie for sure.

  2. Well done buddy. Great review of a film I can’t wait to see.

    • Thanks! It’s an exceptional movie and I think you’ll really enjoy it.

  3. Nicely done mate. Heard some very different things on this, definitely seems like one that will split opinion. Very interested to see it.

    • Thanks! It’s a very decisive movie, but I really enjoyed it. It had some issues, but this is one of the year’s best in my opinion.

  4. You already know how I felt, so no need to rehash it here. However I have an question.

    ** SPOILERS **

    Q: What’s the deal with Kris shooting The Sampler? The Thief was the one who injected her with the worms and ruined her life.

    • Thanks for the comment. Here’s my theory.


      Both Kris and Jeff has worms removed from them by The Sampler, who put them in pigs, creating a psychic level between them. When the Sampler drowned the pigs, he was mentally hurting both of them (hence why they both panicking after the pigs die). I think they eventually somehow remember the Sampler and believe he’s the one who caused it.

  5. Shows the talent of one of the most promising directors. Film is on the right track.

    • Thanks for the comment. Carruth is one of the best new voices working today. This reminded me of To The Wonder.

      • It does doesn’t it. It’s great having all these surreal directors…Malick, Refn, Boyle and even Harmony Korine was a little in Spring Breakers.

  6. I keep meaning to watch this and just haven’t gotten to it yet. Glad to see you liked it.

    • Thanks for the comment. It’s a really interesting movie, not for all tastes but I enjoyed it.

  7. Nice review, one of my favorite films of the year. I know Andrew Sensenig is on Twitter you might want to look him up he gave us a RT on our Upstream Color review.

    • Thanks, it’s one of my favorites of the year thus far as well.

  8. Loved this film and it is currently in my top 10 of the year…

    • Thanks for the comment. So far it’s been one of my favorites as well. Not without its flaws but a really interesting movie.

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