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The 2013 Sundance Review Report: ‘Upstream Color’

The 2013 Sundance Review Report: 'Upstream Color'

The Sundance Review Report rounds up each day’s notable premieres, along with a sampling of their reviews and tweets from Park City, Utah. Here’s the reaction to “Upstream Color,” director Shane Carruth’s long-awaited follow-up to his time travel indie “Primer.” 

Upstream Color
Category: U.S. Dramatic
Director: Shane Carruth
Starring: Amy Seimetz, Shane Carruth, Andrew Sensenig, Thiago Martins
Synopsis:Kris is derailed from her life when she is drugged by a small-time thief. But something bigger is going on. She is unknowingly drawn into the life cycle of a presence that permeates the microscopic world, moving to nematodes, plant life, livestock, and back again. Along the way, she finds another being — a familiar, who is equally consumed by thelarger force. The two search urgently for a place of safety within each other as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of their wrecked lives.”


Ryland Aldrich, Twitch:

“This is an experience movie with many big confusing ideas. Some will likely find brilliance in these ideas. Others will be frustrated.”

Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter:

“This densely exploratory work will cue both elation for its many beauties and deep-furrowed brows about what the hell is going on.”

Drew McWeeny, HitFix:

“Dense, beautiful, hypnotic, and almost willfully opaque, ‘Upstream Color’ is a great movie, but it is not an inviting one.”

Germain Lussier, /Film:

“It’s really beautiful.”

Eric Kohn, Indiewire:

“This stunningly labyrinthine assortment of murky events amount to a riddle with no firm solution.”

Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist:

“A picture that’s not easy to process, and that’s part of what makes it so breathtaking and brilliant. You’re baffled by what you’ve seen and in awe of how it’s illuminated your mind.”

Justin Chang, Variety:

“This unapologetically avant-garde work regards conventional narrative as if it were a not-especially-interesting alien species.”

Matt Goldberg, Collider:

“So busy throwing us off balance that it never lets us get a grip on where we are in relation to the larger aspects of the storytelling and character development.”

Katey Rich, Cinema Blend:

“Carruth is a genuine talent behind the camera, but treatment of his characters as decorations within his wild world rather than as people makes ‘Upstream Color’ more hollow than spectacular.”

Anthony Kaufman, Screen International:

“Wears its pretensions a little too proudly.”


Sam Adams, A.V. Club:

I can’t begin to explain ‘Upstream Color,’ but the only time I’ve felt Stendahl Syndrome like this is watching ‘Tree of Life.'”

Eugene Hernandez, Film Society of Lincoln Center:

Shane Carruth’s ‘Upstream Color’ is one of the most original, inventive, puzzling & ultimately exciting movies at #Sundance2013.”

Russ Fischer, /Film:

‘Upstream Color:’ A tightly controlled explosion of imagination. An uneasy love story about regaining control. Unique, beautiful. #sundance

Damon Wise, The Guardian:

“Still trying to process ‘Upstream Color,’ an often brilliant but nevertheless difficult film about fate (I think!) #Sundance2013

Steven Weintraub, Collider:

Was able to follow the large majority of ‘Upstream Color’ and really dug it. However, it’s definitely not for everyone.”

Jordan Raup, The Film Stage:

“‘Upstream Color:’ difficult to decipher, but will keep one’s attention, although certain sections feel obtuse with little reason.#Sundance

Erik Davis, Movies.com:

“‘Upstream Color’ is a gorgeous movie with ideas both big and intimate, but you’ll need to watch it 47 more times to figure it out. #Sundance

Matt PatchesHollywood.com:

Just explained the plot of ‘Upstream Color’ to someone and now I like it more. #Sundance

Alex Billington, First Showing:

“‘Upstream Color’ – What was that?! What a trip. Carruth’s abstract drug film didn’t really do it for me. Pigs get more screentime than humans.”

David Fear, Time Out New York:

“‘Upstream Color:’ WTF…? #Sundance

Click Below to Read More Sundance Reviews and Tweets Of:
“After Tiller”
“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”
“Before Midnight”
“Crystal Fairy”
“Don Jon’s Addiction”
“The East”
“Escape from Tomorrow”
“In a World”
“Kill Your Darlings”
“May in the Summer”
“The Spectacular Now”
“Touchy Feely”
“Twenty Feet From Stardom”
“Two Mothers”
“Who Is Dayani Cristal?”

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