Movie review: Unnerving “Upstream Color” is both hypnotic and baffling

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From the April 18, 2013 edition

Writer-director Shane Carruth’s “Upstream Color” will probably be the most bafflingly obtuse movie I see this year. It is, in a word, weird.

Yet I found it strangely beautiful, both unnerving and entrancing, even as the plot appears in fuzzy glimpses. And I can similarly see the case for those who would hate every 96 minutes of it.

I will present, unedited, the following synopsis provided for the film.

“A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.”

Sounds fun, huh?

Carruth’s follow-up to 2004’s “Primer” most evokes Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life,” and it’s safe to say that it will be similarly polarizing. The gorgeous photography and use of a narrow depth of field draws you close, as the elliptical editing and plot push you away.

It’s part David Lynch-creepy “X-Files” sci-fi, part offbeat romance, part experimental filmmaking. Even adventurous moviegoers will be divided, but “Upstream Color” got under my skin.