Director Shane Carruth’s second film follows his 2004 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winning “Primer” and takes you on an adventure of surrealism, disbelief, love and madness.
Upstream Colour stretches the concept of an experimental film to a point where you are watching it for its beauty and precision rather than any specific meaning. The synopsis describes the experience as watching “a man and a woman who are drawn together, entangled in the lifecycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.” This in itself sounds complex, but you will find yourself getting swept up in the beauty of it all and intrigued to find out where this film could possibly lead.
So in lamens terms, essentially you watch a girl, Kris, get drugged and kidnapped one night, and in an obedient hypnotic state, she gives away all of her money, lifestyle and previous conception of how a human should live to a petty drug dealing thief. Eventually, and as a result of this drugged state, she find herself at the hands of a pig farmer who has managed to join her life to that of a pig (in a much more lateral sense, rather than a Human Centipede sense). It quickly becomes apparent that Kris is not the only one who has fallen victim to this situation, and in fact a number of citizens live their life through the lives of pigs…which essentially allow the pig farmer to follow and co-ordinate their life choices as he sees fit.
What message Carruth is trying to put across is baffling and may never be found, so if you’re looking for meaning over beauty, Upstream Colour will have the power to frustrate and annoy you. But with clever editing which keeps the action as cryptic for the audience as the characters themselves, sewing tiny fragments of this film together piece by piece, you’ll be coming away from this film discussing its fantastic cinematography and subtle but powerful acting rather than its narrative.
Upstream Colour is definitely one for those of you who like to be pushed to your cerebral limits, but for those who want to stay well away from science fiction and the possibility of pigs ruling the earth, this may be one to miss out on, selective audiences only.
The film hits cinemas in August.