|Sundance London Review: Upstream Colour|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Monday, 29 April 2013 07:03|
Director: Shane Carruth
Shane Carruth blew brains when he popped up out of nowhere with Primer in 2004. Now, he’s looking to do the same with Upstream Colour, a tender low-fi sci-fi that squirms with ideas before exploding into full-on Tree of Life rhapsody. Is that the sign of a masterpiece? Or just an unnecessary third act that’s complex for complexity’s sake?
Things start off in a gripping haze of maggots and mind control as a shady guy sticks bugs inside pills before flogging them in pubs – only for them to wriggle their way through their hosts, taking over their body and making them supplicant to his will. It’s a nasty concept told in beautiful images splattered with unflinching gore; a soft-focus horror that tears through your gut.
Months after her maggoty assault, Kris (a hypnotic Amy Seimetz) finds herself drawn to another man (played by Shane Carruth himself). Has he been through the same thing? And what is that mysterious noise coming from underneath the house?
Carruth builds up layers with an impressive confidence – he composed the score and edited the film too, crafting a sound-driven feast for the eyes that dazzles as much as it defies explanation. It develops wonderfully into an engaging romance, undercut with raw dread, that asks lots of big questions. Mostly in a hushed whisper. Why do we fall in love? What connects us together? How many rocks can you find at the bottom of your local swimming pool? Have you ever read any books by Walden?
It wants to be Terrence Malick, but this enigmatic mosaic is at its most interesting when being David Cronenberg – before, you suspect, it stretches out to massage its own reputation.