Shane Carruth’s first film Primer cost roughly $47 and might be the most realistic time travel movie one could possibly make, the way it spirals helplessly from banality to chaos. Now with Upstream Color and a slightly higher budget, Carruth’s captured what it must be like to peek inside the four-dimensional blueprints of evolution. Only this time the mood isn’t dominated by Philip K. Dick-ian existential techno-terror, although there’s plenty of that; now there’s also gorgeous strokes of Terrence Malick-ish cosmic awe, and a divine reassurance that, despite whatever frightening unknowns lie ahead (or behind, or above, or below), we’re not alone in this.
Primer was one of the few movies I re-watched immediately after my first watching, and I was tempted to do the same with Upstream Color. I got about 15 minutes into my second viewing, long enough for certain images to re-trigger new ideas and shed light on a few of the myriad mysteries. But I had to stop. I realized I could’ve easily been hypnotized, ending up in a loop constructing Möbius strip paper chains, emptying my bank account, and losing myself in Walden philosophy. And there’s only so much frightening majesty I can handle in one day.