"for the happy, the sad, I don't want to be, another page in your diary"

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Swimming Upstream

As is usually the case Derby County follow up successive 3-0 and 5-0 wins with a 3-0 defeat at home to Burnley. I didn’t see that coming but I really should have done. We’ve been here before, numerous times, but you keep hoping your team has turned a corner. Sadly not.

When you go see your first film for ages, you've got to make it a good one or if not a weird one. So Upstream Colour, which falls mainly into the latter category.

A lass called Kris (Amy Seimetz) is accosted by a man known as the Thief (Thiago Martins) in a night club and gets a worm forced down her throat. Once in her body this worm grows inside her, seems to brainwash her and allows him to control her. He then assigns her a series of odd tasks including making her write out each page of Henry David Thoreau's book Walden, a book which pops up frequently throughout the film. Then he sends her off to the bank, where she signs over all her money to him.

Once she's penniless, he leaves. A nice sort of twist on the woman emptying her bloke’s bank account via his credit card I suppose. He leaves her in a bit of a mess, in more ways than one. She can feel the growing worm travelling under her skin and takes a carving knife to her legs.

At this point, another man, The Sampler (Andrew Sensenig), draws her to him by broadcasting the sounds of natural, that he has recorded, back through some big speakers. He takes her to his pig farm where he surgically removes the worm from her body and transplants it into a pig. It appears that he has a group of pigs that are all connected to different people who have suffered the same fate.

Now no longer physically infected, Kris tries to return to normal life and her job but as she's been missing for some time, she loses it. Then she meets Jeff (Shane Carruth) on a train. At first she tries to ignore him but they already seem to have a connection. It turns out he has also been a victim of the same ordeal. Together they attempt to rebuild their lives and make sense of what has happened to them, as do we, the viewer.

It’s the sort of film where the viewer is supposed to fill in all the gaps. It needs your full attention to attempt to do so and there's not a lot of dialogue to help you out. The film is clearly meant to be puzzling and on that basis it succeeds greatly.

The Sampler, as well as being her rescuer, also seems to be the source of the worm drug. So maybe this is a film about drugs and drug dealers? After all drugs do make people do mindless things, bankrupts them, leaves them under the control of their dealers and even if they recover, they are never the same people again. Possibly.

There are countless theories you could come up with and there are countless theories already out there on the internet.

It’s engrossing but it's not a film that the majority of film goers will appreciate due to its lack of car chases, explosions and general absence of straightforward-ness plus the buzzing of the constant ambient soundtrack will give some folk a headache. Yet, in a year where everyone is making sequels or remakes it's good to see something refreshingly different and outlandish like this.

(Saturday 31st August)

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