Reviews: Upstream Color

the unspeakable end of everything

Upstream color is a repeat of the central theme of Carruth's debut, only in a more coherent form. Something groundbreaking is discovered and exploited for ultimately petty projects. But while Primer saw the use of actual real time travel fur such bullshit as slight stock market manipulation and sex, Upstream color lumps significantly more onto the stupid pile of futility - thievery, perfectly legit commercial activity and even art. The florist, thief and musician do not know each other; they have within their means something with great potential, yet they are incapable of doing more than attempt to individually gain money while (unknowingly) crippling others. Even art is ultimately sold in a store, in a mundane manner, like any product, and the artist himself is treated simply as the greatest of the three forms of evil. It's not just a condemnation of capitalism, but possibly of every form of civilisation that had ever existed. The old humanity dies, utterly surprised, in a pile of pig shit while trapped in a fantasy world and is replaced by something new and incomprehensible, which has no need for hierarchy, money or even language (the movie just abandons spoken dialogue at some point - words don't fix anything, there a like bandages on a severed limb). Along with the madness mantra of Walden, this elevates this film to nothing short of a manifesto. Utterly brilliant.