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
Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Local

Bushwick community space offers activists a place to…

A new Bushwick community space offers community activists to meet, create, learn and throw back a few cold ones. MayDay, located 214 Starr Street in Bushwick,…

Local

Activists gearing up for Sunday's "historic" People's Climate…

If all goes according to plan, more than 100,000 people will gather near Central Park West on Sunday morning and march through midtown to raise…

Movies

Kevin Smith makes peace with the Internet

I was thinking about Ain't It Cool News and Harry Knowles last night, wondering if anyone from Ain't It Cool had reviewed my new movie…

Movies

Art imitates life in 'Swim Little Fish Swim'

There's a certain comfort to be taken in finding that young artists are still moving to New York and trying to make it — and…

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and a being called Emily get…

Esperanza Spalding is about to spiral off in a brand new direction that may or may include an alter ego named Emily.

NFL

Oday Aboushi ready for increased role, and to…

Oday Aboushi might feel comfortable enough to engage in some trash talk the next time he is on the field.

NFL

Giants vs. Texans: 3 things to watch

The Giants host the surprising Texans (2-0) in what may already be a must-win game for Big Blue.

NFL

Eric Decker misses practice again, could miss Monday

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker missed practice Thursday as he continues to rehab a hamstring injury suffered last Sunday.

MLB

Derek Jeter still focused on baseball as final…

Derek Jeter has effectively hid his emotions for 20 years in the Bronx.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…