Let ‘Upstream Color’ carry you on a painful search for truth

Shane Carruth and Amy Seimetz star in "Upstream Color." Credit: erbp
Shane Carruth and Amy Seimetz star in “Upstream Color.” Credit: erbp

‘Upstream Color’
Director: Shane Carruth
Stars: Amy Seimetz, Shane Carruth
Rating: NR
5 (out of 5) Globes

However dense Shane Carruth’s 2004 time travel romp “Primer” was — which is to say, to put it kindly, absurdly — one could at least offer a basic summary: Two guys accidentally invent a time machine and things get out of control. No such luck with “Upstream Color,” Carruth’s belated follow-up, which is even more complicated but without the safety net of a genre standby premise. To wit: It involves a woman (Amy Seimetz, a filmmaker-actor as well) who, as the picture begins, is abducted and brainwashed. There is something involving inchworms distilled into tea. She eventually meets a man (Carruth) who appears to have experienced a similar, or maybe the exact same, event. They enter into a kind of relationship comprised of inscrutable rituals and the search for truth, whatever that may be, and which may involve a farmer who raises pigs and performs ambient music.

The Internet’s dedicated obsessive time-wasters solved “Primer,” and they’re doubtless all over “Upstream,” which makes even less sense. But treating either film as a puzzle is to miss its true essence. One doesn’t need to have a firm grasp on the multiple timelines in “Primer” to grok its portrayal of new science gone madly off the rails; nor does one need to understand what skin grafts on pigs have to do with anything in “Upstream Color” to get something profound out of its portrayal of love borne out of shared trauma. The characters played by Seimetz and Carruth have had their lives upturned by a severe disturbance, and once they meet, they block out the world that does not share their past, descending into a conjoined insanity that makes sense to them, if not anyone else.

For the record, the plot makes a sort of sense as it’s in motion. No filmmaker this heavily into plot has been this disinterested in expository dialogue; “Primer” drowned in technical gobbledygook, while the chatter here is usually off-hand and barely coherent when audible. It’s clear Carruth intends this as an emotional experience, a delving into real pain experienced by 30-somethings who have yet to find stability. He composes the film like music, in movements. There are few “proper” scenes, but plenty of montages, and the final third is a dialogue-free affair that rides on semi-sensible imagery against Carruth’s mournful score. While it’s happening in front of you, it’s the most arresting film in town. Just don’t try to explain it to strangers.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…