Dear Upstream Color (Rick’s Take),
As your reality unfurls itself in the beginning, I pause at your one-quarter point watching Kris (Amy Seimetz) sleeping and am undeniably intrigued, though undoubtedly unmoved! You are still an unknown quantity even while clearly being an exercise in experimental cinema. I wonder where it is you will take me and what I will feel when I get there.
I am at halfway and I realize I must absorb you in fractions. I manage to wrap my head around this ageless organism, this almost mindless connoisseur of life force, from who knows where, yet I am underwhelmed at its almost quixotic avarice toward the lives it has wormed its way into. Aside from your mysterious ageless voyeur, there is an interesting development in the power of two souls connecting and here finally, is a tale that may indeed redeem my perhaps too lofty expectation.
(I realize now on the second viewing of your strangeness that the power of this love between two broken people is in the grounding of humanity its intrinsic sentience, that makes sense out of the senseless world on screen. While this skilled filmmaker spins out a strange tale, it dawns on me that perhaps these gifts of our humanity is what generates that power that can ultimately take two souls beyond the reality in front of their eyes. Even with that raised awareness though, life still seems to need a catalyst to lift the veil completely.)
Is our organism so base as to deign to deal in thoughtless mechanisms? It seems so as I reach the three quarter mark and there is plenty of history and subterfuge to heap on even more of the same. But while some things are unclear, your pair still rises above themselves. Yes, lives are connected, yes reality is shared, and it blends in an ‘I am you and you are me,’ sort of way but beyond the mystery of life itself and its ability to find a way, there is no rhyme or reason and Kris and Jeff (director Shane Carruth,) seem to unearth connections with no end.
Then there is the fatal misstep. There is a riling of inborn instinct and animal protection that is at such a deep level in our DNA as a species, that our omnipresent friend knows not where it treads and in doing so ensures its discovery.
As you take me to an end a with all requisite strangeness in tact, you redeem in a way that wholly surprises and satisfies me, yet, still leaves nearly as many mysteries and questions as it answers and though there is the root survival of all the players subjected to this experience, I can’t say it is the resilience of love that is all redeeming. You, like your visionary’s prior film of note, “Primer,” will require multiple viewings to feel the depth of your broader message. Even with my second viewing behind me there are still are future revelations to discover and that is in my mind, what makes you utterly brilliant and wholly unique.
May your legend grow and may Shane’s on screen tales be numerous while he is bound in this earthly vessel.
In all appreciation,