Sweet tap dancing Christ, that movie was the biggest pile of pretentious wank I've seen at a festival in years. And reading the critics reviews has only made me more irate. I don't mind films where you have to do some intellectual jigsaw puzzling, and I don't mind surrendering myself to a stunning aural and visual landscape, but there must be some purpose to it, some meaning to it, beyond wilful obscurity. This film isn't so much arthouse sci-fi as an ill defined, loosely assembled jumble of images so absurd as to be laughable.
The story, such as it is, sees a young woman subjected to some kind of mind control and body horror by a gardener with some creepy maggots. He's so mean he makes her knit and drink iced water while nicking her cash. And then, we have another creepy guy who gets the maggot out of her but also does some kind of weird human centipede thang with pig transfusions in between being a sound recordist. Then the woman meets a creepy guy who's probably some kind of dodgy insider trader who inexplicably puts up with her shit. Which leads them back to discovering what happened and alerting the other victims, who then apparently set about pig farming.
I'm not denying that there are some arresting images in the movie, and the weird creepiness of the first act gave me hope. The soundscape is also beautifully done. But the alienating effect of the constant sharp editing, the ludicrous rambling voice overs and the sub Malick shots of nature had me falling asleep in my chair. I can't believe this is what we were waiting for for nine years after Shane Carruth's superb suburban sci fi PRIMER.
UPSTREAM COLOR has a running time of 96 minutes. The movie played Sundance 2013 where it won the Special Jury Prize for Sound Design, Berlin 2013 and SXSW 2013. It will be released in the USA on April 5th.