The Cautionary Rhapsody of “Upstream Color”

I’ve written in the magazine this week about both “Primer” and “Upstream Color” and also discussed the new film earlier this year (as well as its differences from the first) at the time of its Sundance première. Both are science-fiction films; both are concerned with the theme of identity. “Primer” is the story of two young high-tech start-up inventors whose anti-gravity device turns out to be a time machine—one of an exquisitely, ironically narrow scope that nonetheless messes mightily with its self-experimenters’ lives. It’s an ingenious conceit, realized with mighty intelligence, taste, wit, and an audaciously calm sense of free fall; yet it’s also, foremost, a great script. Despite the stuttering editing that opens disturbing gaps in time and clear-eyed filming that, at moments of crisis, delivers quiet shocks, the filming is primarily—albeit sophisticatedly—illustrative. Carruth gives the impression of, for the most part, executing, with expressive clarity,

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