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Upstream Color (2013)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Sci-Fi  |  30 August 2013 (UK)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 18,912 users   Metascore: 81/100
Reviews: 120 user | 253 critic | 27 from

A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Kathy Carruth ...
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Meredith Burke ...
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Ashton Miramontes ...
Myles McGee ...
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Woman in Club
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Kris is attacked one night, and hypnotized, using a grub with hypnotic properties, administered by a thief. She follows the thief's instructions to give him everything, even taking out loans. After the worms are extracted, she wakes up to find her life ruined. She's lost her job, her finances are destroyed. Years later, she meets Jeff whom she may have a lot in common with. Written by SnoopyStyle

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Sci-Fi


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

| |  »



Release Date:

30 August 2013 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Cores do Destino  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$50,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$28,649 (USA) (5 April 2013)


$415,067 (USA) (17 May 2013)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film that Kris is editing at the beginning of the movie is A Topiary, the film that Shane Carruth had begun production on before deciding to film Upstream Color instead. See more »


When the Sampler is incapacitating a pig with his instrument, the knot is thrown towards the pig's face and stretched. In the next frame, the wire knot is around the pig's body between its front & hind legs. See more »


[Kris is rummaging through an enormous shoulder-bag and not meeting Jeff's eyes]
Kris: Why do you take the train?
Jeff: Why do I take the train?
Kris: Yeah, it's just, everyone who takes the train is either homeless or they had their license revoked or, you know.
Jeff: Do you want to see my driver's license?
Kris: No.
See more »

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User Reviews

"Each drink is better than the last, leaving you with the desire to have one more. Take a drink now."
25 May 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I knew this film was going to be weird. Shane Carruth's debut film - Primer - was an oddity as it was, lacking in straightforward answers or explanations, but presenting a very intriguing and sturdy piece of hard science fiction. Be warned that Upstream Color is also something that lacks a straightforward explanation. In fact, Primer was something rather cold, with its strong basis in the scientific method; UC is far warmer and artistic, but is also more abstract.

The film may come off as slow and dull to certain viewers, especially if you're expecting a strong narrative structure or plot. I'm usually adverse to movies that have no real plot or conflict, but with this film, it's the experience that matters. Watching this film is a strangely mesmerizing, lucid, and smooth experience, given the exquisite imagery, nuanced performances, and quality music score. The film's first fifteen minutes are probably the most straightforward, most interesting, and most disturbing aspect of the whole thing, and it serves as an important fulcrum point. This much I understand: the film starts off with the freaky notion that there's a man injecting grubs into people, which makes them susceptible to mind control. From then on, the film tracks two such victims who inevitably come together and discover the secrets of their latent trauma.

What makes the film so weird, so cerebral, and potentially frustrating, is that things happen, and characters will say things that won't make total sense. And most scenes are intercut with such footage as a farmer tending to pigs, and flowers growing in the wilderness. The movie draws stark parallels between such images, to unearth some rich thematic territory. Could such scenes reflect on life and death? Is it all about nature? Is it about love? Is it the human condition overall? The film never really tell you outright, and it gets very surreal when scenes overlap. If you struggle to find logic behind this story, you might write it off as messy. If you take in the experience and open your mind to interpreting the film, it'll keep your brain going and haunt you indefinitely. It's an experience comparable to such films as Mulholland Drive.

This film is very stylish, with some beautiful photography and ingenious editing. All actors put on decent performances, and they show a good blend of nuance and emotion. Writing is pretty weird, given the amount of strange and unusual dialogue. This production uses excellent sets, props, and costumes. The music score is very exquisite.

While Primer was a film that appeals on an intellectual level, Upstream Color appeals best to the artistic side of the brain. If you're susceptible to strange, abstract films that require lots of brainpower to interpret and understand, then this one is a perfect puzzlebox for you. Casual audiences might want to approach this with caution.

5/5 (Experience: Very Good | Content: Very Good | Film: Perfect)

76 of 110 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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