Upstream Color Reviews

Wesley Morris
Grantland
Top Critic
January 3, 2014

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.

Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic
December 17, 2013

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 | Original Score: 2.5/4
Melissa Maerz
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic
December 17, 2013

If the movie is a bit of a mystery, so is Carruth.

Full Review | Original Score: A-
Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post
Top Critic
December 17, 2013

Should you see Upstream Color? A better question may be: How many times should you see it?

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Trevor Johnston
Time Out
Top Critic
August 27, 2013

The most visually imaginative American film since David Lynch's Eraserhead.

Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic
May 9, 2013

A cerebral, mournful mystery that resonates like a tuning fork struck on a far-off star.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Tirdad Derakhshani
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic
May 3, 2013

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 | Original Score: 3.5/4
Tom Long
Detroit News
Top Critic
April 26, 2013

"Upstream Color" is splendid, transcendent weirdness.

Full Review | Original Score: A
Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
Top Critic
April 25, 2013

I loved it.

Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5
Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
Top Critic
April 19, 2013

Sci-fi might have been too familiar a word, for what may induce a kind of hallucinatory melancholy in its viewers.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
John Anderson
Newsday
Top Critic
April 18, 2013

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

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Cary Darling
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com
Top Critic
April 18, 2013

Taken as a whole, it's an impressive piece of filmmaking that shows Carruth's talents as director, actor, cinematographer and composer.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Ian Buckwalter
The Atlantic
Top Critic
April 12, 2013

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 | Original Score: 9/10
Geoff Pevere
Globe and Mail
Top Critic
April 12, 2013

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 | Original Score: 3/4
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic
April 11, 2013

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 | Original Score: 4/5
Jeff Shannon
Seattle Times
Top Critic
April 11, 2013

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 | Original Score: 3/4
J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
Top Critic
April 11, 2013

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.

Peter Keough
Boston Globe
Top Critic
April 11, 2013

While I feel compelled to see it again, I don't have high hopes that it will make any more sense.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Peter Howell
Toronto Star
Top Critic
April 11, 2013

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 | Original Score: 3.5/4
Farran Smith Nehme
New York Post
Top Critic
April 5, 2013

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 | Original Score: 2.5/4
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic
April 5, 2013

"Upstream Color" lacks both a clear point and, more crucially, a point of view.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
Top Critic
April 4, 2013

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.

Manohla Dargis
New York Times
Top Critic
April 4, 2013

A deeply sincere, elliptical movie about being and nature, men and women, self and other, worms and pigs ...

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
Top Critic
April 4, 2013

"Upstream Color" is weird, but it's worth the time.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Scott Tobias
AV Club
Top Critic
April 4, 2013

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 | Original Score: A
Simon Abrams
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic
April 4, 2013

A romance, a thriller, and a science-fiction drama, "Upstream Color" tantalizes viewers with an open-ended narrative about overcoming personal loss.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Joshua Rothkopf
Time Out New York
Top Critic
April 3, 2013

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 | Original Score: 3/5
Stephanie Zacharek
Village Voice
Top Critic
April 3, 2013

It's a bloodless movie, and its ideas aren't as tricky or complex as Carruth's arch, mannered approach might suggest.

Christy Lemire
Associated Press
Top Critic
April 1, 2013

The artistry on display is indisputable, and thrilling.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Richard Brody
New Yorker
Top Critic
April 1, 2013

A vision as vast and as natural as it is reflexively cinematic and fiercely compassionate.

David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic
April 1, 2013

I've seen Upstream Color twice and liked it enormously while never being certain of anything.

Michael Nordine
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic
February 26, 2013

One eventually grows so weary of discerning the signal from the noise that it all blurs together.

William Goss
Film.com
Top Critic
January 28, 2013

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.

Justin Chang
Variety
Top Critic
January 22, 2013

Upstream Color is a stimulating and hypnotic piece of experimental filmmaking.

Todd McCarthy
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic
January 21, 2013

A dramatically obscure, technically brilliant experiment in speculative fiction from Shane Carruth.