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Upstream Color Reviews

Wesley Morris
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What the movie points to is worth following until you're left with an enormous map that you spend the rest of the drive trying to refold.

Full Review Source: Grantland

January 3, 2014
Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
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Carruth's visual approach, saved from abstraction by his own rapid, forward-leaping editing, is extremely assured. Seimetz is a fine and expressively haunted actress. I look forward to the enigmas in Carruth's next picture.

Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune | Original Score: 2.5/4

December 17, 2013
Melissa Maerz
Entertainment Weekly
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If the movie is a bit of a mystery, so is Carruth.

Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly | Original Score: A-

December 17, 2013
Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post
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Should you see Upstream Color? A better question may be: How many times should you see it?

Full Review Source: Washington Post | Original Score: 2.5/4

December 17, 2013
Trevor Johnston
Time Out
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The most visually imaginative American film since David Lynch's Eraserhead.

Full Review Source: Time Out | Original Score: 5/5

August 27, 2013
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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A cerebral, mournful mystery that resonates like a tuning fork struck on a far-off star.

Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune | Original Score: 3.5/4

May 9, 2013
Tirdad Derakhshani
Philadelphia Inquirer
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It presents us with a glimpse of the vastness of existence, of our inner nature, and of nature without that is as equally dreadful, enveloping, and terrifying as it is beautiful.

Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer | Original Score: 3.5/4

May 3, 2013
Tom Long
Detroit News
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"Upstream Color" is splendid, transcendent weirdness.

Full Review Source: Detroit News | Original Score: A

April 26, 2013
Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
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I loved it.

Full Review Source: Arizona Republic | Original Score: 4.5/5

April 25, 2013
Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
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Sci-fi might have been too familiar a word, for what may induce a kind of hallucinatory melancholy in its viewers.

Full Review Source: Denver Post | Original Score: 3/4

April 19, 2013
John Anderson
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Elliptical and utterly fascinating adventure in cinema, one that defies simple explanations, but worms its way into the brain.

Full Review Source: Newsday | Original Score: 4/4

April 18, 2013
Cary Darling
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/
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Taken as a whole, it's an impressive piece of filmmaking that shows Carruth's talents as director, actor, cinematographer and composer.

Full Review Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram/ | Original Score: 4/5

April 18, 2013
Ian Buckwalter
The Atlantic
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Carruth may be something that the movies haven't yet seen, perhaps the first great realization of the democratization of filmmaking that digital technology and the Internet promised.

Full Review Source: The Atlantic | Original Score: 9/10

April 12, 2013
Geoff Pevere
Globe and Mail
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Upstream Color is a deliberate exercise in swooning obscurity. You either go with its considerable sensory powers or you scratch a groove on your head.

Full Review Source: Globe and Mail | Original Score: 3/4

April 12, 2013
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
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Being completely understood at first glance is not on creator Shane Carruth's agenda, but while this may sound upsetting, it turns out to be quite the opposite.

Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times | Original Score: 4/5

April 11, 2013
Jeff Shannon
Seattle Times
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Visually and sonically hypnotic, it's an intensely sensory blend of internal monologue and unsettling mystery, draped over a thin skeleton of plot approached so obliquely that it seems almost inconsequential.

Full Review Source: Seattle Times | Original Score: 3/4

April 11, 2013
J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
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No one else today approaches the genre in quite this way; the only precedent I can think of is Nicolas Roeg's The Man Who Fell to Earth.

Full Review Source: Chicago Reader

April 11, 2013
Peter Keough
Boston Globe
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While I feel compelled to see it again, I don't have high hopes that it will make any more sense.

Full Review Source: Boston Globe | Original Score: 3.5/4

April 11, 2013
Peter Howell
Toronto Star
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Meanings are multiple, debatable and ultimately pointless. What really impresses about Upstream Color is Carruth's confident navigation of this fast river of ideas ...

Full Review Source: Toronto Star | Original Score: 3.5/4

April 11, 2013
Farran Smith Nehme
New York Post
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This enigma-delivery system from a sharp mind has enthralling moments but becomes a bit enervating in its self-seriousness. By the end, the whole thing feels more academic than mind-bending.

Full Review Source: New York Post | Original Score: 2.5/4

April 5, 2013
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
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"Upstream Color" lacks both a clear point and, more crucially, a point of view.

Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger | Original Score: 2/4

April 5, 2013
Andrew O'Hehir
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What I discern here is the work of a unique visual stylist and collage artist who's creating obsessive-compulsive allegorical puzzles, whose underlying philosophy is deliberately unclear.

Full Review Source:

April 4, 2013
Manohla Dargis
New York Times
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A deeply sincere, elliptical movie about being and nature, men and women, self and other, worms and pigs ...

Full Review Source: New York Times | Original Score: 4/5

April 4, 2013
Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
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"Upstream Color" is weird, but it's worth the time.

Full Review Source: New York Daily News | Original Score: 3/5

April 4, 2013
Scott Tobias
AV Club
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Upstream Color is one of the greatest realizations of the digital dream, which was supposed to allow filmmakers to express a full, idiosyncratic vision from outside the system.

Full Review Source: AV Club | Original Score: A

April 4, 2013
Simon Abrams
Chicago Sun-Times
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A romance, a thriller, and a science-fiction drama, "Upstream Color" tantalizes viewers with an open-ended narrative about overcoming personal loss.

Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Original Score: 3.5/4

April 4, 2013
Joshua Rothkopf
Time Out New York
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No one is going to explain any of this for you-and the slightly snobby implication of Upstream Color is that explanations are for suckers.

Full Review Source: Time Out New York | Original Score: 3/5

April 3, 2013
Stephanie Zacharek
Village Voice
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It's a bloodless movie, and its ideas aren't as tricky or complex as Carruth's arch, mannered approach might suggest.

Full Review Source: Village Voice

April 3, 2013
Christy Lemire
Associated Press
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The artistry on display is indisputable, and thrilling.

Full Review Source: Associated Press | Original Score: 3.5/4

April 1, 2013
Richard Brody
New Yorker
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A vision as vast and as natural as it is reflexively cinematic and fiercely compassionate.

Full Review Source: New Yorker

April 1, 2013
David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
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I've seen Upstream Color twice and liked it enormously while never being certain of anything.

Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture

April 1, 2013
Michael Nordine
L.A. Weekly
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One eventually grows so weary of discerning the signal from the noise that it all blurs together.

Full Review Source: L.A. Weekly

February 26, 2013
William Goss
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A relatively straightforward story steeped in abstract concepts upon which Carruth hangs themes of love, hope, fear, fate, free will, memory, identity, creativity, spirituality, the control of nature and the nature of control like so many paper chains.

Full Review Source:

January 28, 2013
Justin Chang
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Upstream Color is a stimulating and hypnotic piece of experimental filmmaking.

Full Review Source: Variety

January 22, 2013
Todd McCarthy
Hollywood Reporter
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A dramatically obscure, technically brilliant experiment in speculative fiction from Shane Carruth.

Full Review Source: Hollywood Reporter

January 21, 2013
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