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Upstream Color

Upstream Color

Cast: Shane Carruth, Amy Seimetz, Andrew Sensenig, Thiago Martins


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Primer director Shane Carruth returns nearly a decade after his debut feature with the enigmatic thriller Upstream Color. Amy Seitz stars as a woman whose life is shattered when a thief gives her a mysterious drug that forces her to do whatever he says. Years after this incident, she begins a tentative relationship with a man (played by Carruth), but


Primer director Shane Carruth returns nearly a decade after his debut feature with the enigmatic thriller Upstream Color. Amy Seitz stars as a woman whose life is shattered when a thief gives her a mysterious drug that forces her to do whatever he says. Years after this incident, she begins a tentative relationship with a man (played by Carruth), but both of them seem to suffer from strange memory problems, and she's still haunted by what happened to her before. Upstream Color screened at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, where Carruth won accolades years before with Primer.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
Shane Carruth's directorial debut, the über-low-budget time-travel drama Primer, won accolades at Sundance and was nominated for four Independent Spirit Awards. It also sparked a wealth of conversation in people who never tired of untangling the movie's purposefully confounding structure. Even though it took practically a decade for him to release his second film, the psychologically sci-fi tinged thriller Upstream Color, anybody haunted by Primer's creepy overtones will instantly recognize it as the work of the same director. Borrowing an approach that could best be called Malick-esque, Upstream Color dispenses with conventional scene structure. Carruth opens with a sequence of a worm-like animal being harvested out of a plant and kids daring each other to drink a concoction laced with liquid filtered through that creature. Soon we're in a nightclub where a man slips the potion into the drink of an unsuspecting woman. What follows is the most conventionally riveting section of the movie, an extended sequence where the man has the woman at a house or apartment, and seems to have total hypnotic control over her. She not only seems powerless to fight against his commands -- which start off having her perform pointless tasks repeatedly and end up involving her taking large sums of money out of her bank accounts -- but she also gives into them willingly. While the aftermath of this encounter comprises the bulk of the movie, this opening is so relentlessly creepy, so disturbing in its fractured matter-of-factness, that Carruth proves he hasn't lost an ounce of skill when it comes to unsettling an audience. Amy Seimetz -- who plays Kris, the brainwashed victim -- has an unforced naturalism that's not only heartbreaking, but eliminates the possibility that the film could sink into melodrama. As Kris tries to put her life back together with the help of a new boyfriend (played by Carruth), Seimetz portrays her with such realistic repression -- she does not want to keep thinking about what happened to her -- that she becomes remarkably real to us. The film works because you're left in the dark about what transpires during most of the movie as Carruth effectively builds tension with his ambiguous plot, in addition to his unsettling editing rhythms and the superb sound design work of Johnny Marshall. Like Primer, we're not quite sure what's happening, but we never lose faith that Carruth understands the point of every line of dialogue and every shot. That said, Upstream Color's narrative just doesn't hold together as strongly as Primer's did. There are plot threads that never quite seem to be answered fully -- why is that pen full of pigs so important? Why do Kris and her boyfriend confuse each other's histories? -- and while the film has most assuredly been designed to have viewers return to it again and again in order to unlock these mysteries, there is the nagging sense that for all of Carruth's remarkable talent he's let his pretensions and ambitions get the better of him. Upstream Color is an undeniably unique experience, and that's a rarity that makes it impossible to dismiss. Unlike his debut film Primer, there are no easy antecedents for what it does and how it tries to do it. However, also unlike Primer, Upstream Color never seems like it can be unlocked. It's a Rubik's Cube where the colors can not only shift just as you put them in alignment, but whole new hues can appear on it, or they might just drip off altogether onto the floor. The movie was built to attract a devout cult following, and there's little doubt in that regard that Carruth has succeeded wildly.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
New Video Group
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Amy Seimetz Kris
Shane Carruth Jeff
Andrew Sensenig Sampler
Thiago Martins Thief
Kathy Carruth Orchid Mother
Meredith Burke Orchid Daughter
Andreon Watson Peter
Ashton Miramontes Lucas
Myles McGee Monty
Frank Mosley Husband
Carolyn King Wife
Kerry McCormick OBGYN
Marco Rodriguez MRI Tech
Brina Palencia Woman in Club
Lynn Blackburn HR Manager
John Walpole Bank Investigator
David Little Veterinarian #1
Julie Anne Mayfield Veterinarian #2
Ben Le Clair The Sampled
Gerald Dewey The Sampled
Leticia Magaña The Sampled
Rebecca Waldon The Sampled
Lindsey Roberts The Sampled
Cody Pottkotter The Sampled
Julie Santosuosso The Sampled
Steve Jimenez The Sampled
Jack Watkins The Sampled
Ted Ferguson The Sampled
Julie Ferguson The Sampled
Karen Jagger The Sampled
Jason Barnes Roth
Wendy Welch Neighbor
Keith Copeman EMT #1
Nettie Yovanovitch EMT #1
Tony Tamaj Intern #1
Wheeler Williams Intern #2
Tommy Watson Security Guard
Joe Cutler Grocery Store Clerk

Technical Credits
Shane Carruth Director,Score Composer,Camera Operator,Cinematographer,Editor,Screenwriter
Meredith Burke Co-producer
Ben Le Clair Producer
Scott Douglass Executive Producer
Casey Gooden Camera Operator,Producer
Brent Goodman Executive Producer
Toby Halbrooks Co-producer
Heather Henry Makeup Special Effects
Hunter Holder Camera Operator
Pete Horner Sound Editor,Sound Mixer
David Lowery Editor
Johnny Marshall Sound/Sound Designer
Bongani Mlambo Camera Operator
Thomas Walker Production Designer
Jeff Walker Camera Operator

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Upstream Color
1. Grubs [7:34]
2. Controlled [8:19]
3. Infested [9:53]
4. Ruined [8:04]
5. Fascinations [7:50]
6. Sampling Lives [9:05]
7. Forgotten Trauma [8:17]
8. Shared Experience [10:54]
9. Underwater [4:55]
10. Walden [7:24]
11. The Connection [6:45]
12. Finding Peace [6:53]


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