Heading into the final festival weekend, Salt Lake City Sundancers have a chance to see a couple of the best films in both the U.S. Dramatic and U.S. Documentary competition. ---
Upstream Color -- writer/director/star Shane Carruth's fascinating follow-up to his 2004 Sundance film Primer -- may be nothing more than its fascinating surface-level story, about a woman whose life is shattered when she's subjected to a strange substance that renders her intensely suggestible. The plot, bizarre though it may be, isn't hard to follow; the only question is whether it adds up to something even more profound than its utterly singular narrative and Carruth's elliptical visual style.
The documentary Life According to Sam may have a somewhat misleading title, in that it's less about Sam Berns -- a 13-year-old boy among the few people living with the rare, rapid-aging disease progeria -- than about his mother and her research project to come up with a treatment. But it's pretty terrific as a profile not just of this particular woman and her determination, but as a case study in what it's like to be a parent told that your child is doomed, and what you do with your life then.