For every week in the month of December, TheWeek.com's entertainment editor Scott Meslow will be recommending an overlooked 2013 release that’s currently available on Netflix Instant Watch. This week: Upstream Color.
I want you to watch Upstream Color, but I’m going to tell you as little as possible about it. While its elliptical story can’t exactly be spoiled, Upstream Color is a movie worth experiencing — and I’d encourage anyone who’s curious about Upstream Color to avoid reading any detailed reviews or plot summaries until after they’ve seen it and taken a few days to reflect on it for themselves.
So what can I tell you? Upstream Color follows Kris, a troubled woman (Amy Seimetz) who forms an intense bond with an similarly troubled man named Jeff (Shane Carruth). For reasons neither neither Kris nor Jeff can explain, they’ve been drawn into a complex natural process much bigger and stranger than they can begin to comprehend — a process that alters the course of their lives in profound ways. Blue orchids, a pig farm, and Henry David Thoreau’s Walden come to play pivotal roles as the story slowly unfolds.
If it wasn’t already clear, there’s a lot going on in Upstream Color, which features elements of romance, tragedy, sci-fi, and horror during its multifaceted, gorgeously directed runtime. But as interesting as that story turns out to be, Upstream Color is about far more than the raw beats of its narrative. It’s about the mystery of nature, and the bonds that hold people together (or drive them apart), and the inescapable forces that end up determining so much of our lives. For all its strangeness, at its core, Upstream Color is just about living — and while it may affect each viewer who consumes it in a completely different way, I guarantee you’ve never seen anything quite like it.