Reflection – Upstream Color

Many things can be said about Upstream Color and still there will be things left unsaid. It is such a, one of a kind, movie one would be tempted to call it Cinema (yes, with the upper case see and, yes, tempted to). What is of concern, though, is some of its content (as opposed to its form) and its device. In that regard, one of its faults strangely as well happens to be its perfection, which is obedience (by the book), that is it cannot overcome its temptations of Chekhov’s gun—that fixation, that oft-unquestioned submission (of fiction) to what is at best a mere shadow. In a movie like Upstream Color, that is a movie that bends reality a fair bit, a punch to the face could achieve what a shot to the chest could not, yet it’s very content with—a funny sad thing—conforming, its blindness surrounding Chekhov’s gun being it doesn’t see there are choices (beyond) and beside the pull of the trigger.

Its bigger fault is it enforces human transcendence (rather violently) as though it were some kind of gospel or universalism (not that either could be validly enforced, just that they’ve often violently and deceptively been) when any form of transcendence and (rigid) enforcement never do make bedfellows (which maybe, just maybe, is what it is getting at mutely and roundabout). For it to have done that it is historically unsound, (even if it isn’t that) it is very ethically unsound and even worse—very, very creatively indolent. Again, the funny sad thing is it is deeply flawed just as it is technically, if not perfect, seemingly deeply beautiful. So, for an ideal example of if-looks-could-lie, one needn’t to look further.

Aside from its faults, its one weakness is the thin science fiction cloak it happens to wear. It is a greater weakness because with that it ends up as a (personal) utopian (myopic) vision, that vision (whatever that is) of some kind achieved by way of violence and deception. With its choice of such a sci-fi device, instead of a (say, Kafkaesque) irrealist device (when incorporating such a irrealist device would render it rather far-sighted, making the happenings less explicable, leaving it open to valid yet varied interpretations), despite it concluding in the affirmative, as it is, it is essentially defeatist and (among other things) borders dangerously on anti-life, than anti anything else.


3 thoughts on “Reflection – Upstream Color

    • Really, that wasn’t my intention here. The movie has some great moments in between – its editing, etc. – which went unmentioned here as those would fall under ‘form’. Overall, though, it gave the ends-justify-means trope feeling, which again might or mightn’t have been the filmmaker’s intention but remains greatly bothersome all the same. For lack of better words, it’s a flawed work with intermittent sparks of brilliance. I’d been honest about it is all. So you needn’t take my word for it.

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