Made in 2013, This film is directed by Shane Carruth, the director of the time travel story “Primer”. I liked “Primer”, but I’m not so sure about this.

Briefly, the story is about a woman who is drugged by a man using some sort of worm. This makes her extremely suggestible, as if hypnotised. He is able to brainwash her to withdraw all of her money and give it to him, over a period of some days. After he leaves, she is influenced to approach another man who appears to be waiting for her, who removes the parasitical worm and places it into a pig. The woman comes to herself, initially having no memory of what has occurred. She loses her job and her home as a result. Later she meets a man who seems very drawn to her. It eventuates that this man has also been a victim of this assault. The story follows their developing relationship, their eventual piecing together of what happened to them, and also shows some more about the man with the pig, who has a farm of pigs and appears to be able to tap into the memories of his victims via the pigs who hold their worms, suggesting some sort of psychic component.

the story is not told chronologically, and it can be quite difficult to piece together the narrative. This is not a film you want to see for light viewing. The dialogue is minimal, and much of it rather bland. I believe this was deliberate, and that the idea is that the people involved could be anyone. I think the film would have been improved by stronger characters, however.

It’s a beautifully shot film. The atmosphere is very dream-like, enhancing the sense of confusion experienced by the main characters. I like a film that forces the viewer to think and to question, and it certainly achieves this.

Ultimately, however, I was left a little cold. Was there supposed to be a metaphorical meaning to this film? Something about communication, connection, or identity, maybe? The scenes where the two main characters argue over whose memories are whose certainly indicates some kind of identity loss or merging. But I’m not sure, and that’s why I can’t unequivocally say whether I like this. Its unconventional story-telling suggests a deeper meaning, but I could not see what that deeper meaning was supposed to be. Is the initial theft a theft of identity, and do the characters need to recover themselves in order to get over their trauma?

If you like a film that leaves you with questions, give this a try. If you think you know what it means, let me know your theories.

(Follow the link if you would like to purchase a copy of this film.)

Upstream Color

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