Upurga (2021) – DNF

Director: Ugis Olte
Writer: Ugis Olte, Bojana Babic, Lucas Abrahão
Cast: Igors Selegovskis, Inga Tropa, Reinis Boters, Rihards Sniegs, Elvita Ragovska, Morten Traavik
Part of: SLASH 1/2 Filmfestival
Seen on: 5./6.5.2022

Andrejs (Igors Selegovskis) works in an outdoor store. His sister Eva (Inga Tropa) is an actress who is planning to shoot a commercial with her boyfriend Oskars (Reinis Boters) behind the camera, Matiass (Rihards Sniegs) starring alongside her and Mara (Elvita Ragovska) directing – though everything is supposed to look like Eva and Matiass were alone in the wild. When Andrejs learns that they actually plan to go to Upurga to kayak without any guide, he is appalled – and offers his services. So the five go to the river together. But strange things soon start happening.

Upurga does a good job setting up its mystery and then not such a great job with keeping the tension or unraveling the story. Ultimately, I fell asleep and missed the last third or so, but I can’t say I regret not finishing the film.

The film poster showing an upsode down image of water. In the water we can see a female silhouette. Andrejs (Igors Selegovskis) runs along the watershore, upside down as well.

Upurga really starts off well. As long as we don’t know what the everloving fuck is going and what kind of film this is going to be, I was pretty into it. Andrejs apprehension, rooted in bitter experience, sets the mood nicely, an abrasive forest ranger does the rest and we really don’t know: will this be a survival humans vs nature type film? A locals hunt outsiders film? Something else entirely?

And then the film takes a turn into psychedelic, nightmare-ish territory and just runs out of steam. After Andrejs has run his third lap through the forest and has some strange encounters that I could barely decipher (why do people react the way they react?), I simply lost interest.

Andrejs (Igors Selegovskis) carrying a kayak, looking disheveled.

It was around the point that Andrejs gets to a local farm the I started to nod off (it was the third film of the day and practically a midnight screening, it would have been a miracle if I hadn’t had the urge at least) and decided not to fight it. So the mystery of Upurga remains unsolved for me, and I’m perfectly fine with that.

Andrejs (Igors Selegovskis) walking naked through the woods.

Summarizing: didn’t work for me.

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