Almost 10 years after directing Primer, probably the most intelligent or even realistic film about time travel, Shane Carruth directed Upstream Color, a science fiction film that's about the human body's deep connections with other life-forms. The film opens with a group of black and white boys hanging out at a strange man's house. They want something from this man, who turns out to be a thief and kidnapper. This something appears to be a substance extracted from insects. When one boy consumes this substance, he enters another level of reality.
The following scenes concern an attractive and young woman, Kris (played by Amy Seimetz of The Off Hours), living her life in a big city. One night she is kidnapped, drugged, taken to her home, and hypnotized by a method using the strange substance and some dull, 19th-century book. The kidnapper makes Kris withdraw thousands of dollars from her bank account and equity line on her home. After cleaning her out, he leaves her to deal with the seemingly permanent side effect of the drug (which is a mood, a feeling, that something is wrong or missing). The rest of the movie is about her long and slow recovery, which involves a romantic relationship with another victim of the scam named Jeff (played by the director) and a sound engineer who cosmically connects them to a pig farm.
The film is gorgeous and melancholy but runs into several plot problems in the final act. Indeed, the ridiculous ending almost kills the whole film. The fact is Upstream Color does not need a resolution. All it had to do was drift aimlessly from one gorgeous scene to another, like a massive country of a cloud with a sun setting behind it. Opens April 12 at SIFF Film Center.