An old man comes home one evening, and nothing happens when he flicks the light switch. Then, reading one of the letters he had just received, he understands the situation – the electricity company had stopped supply due to his unpaid bills. Full of sorrow, he glances at a picture of his late wife, contemplating what might have been if she was still alive. However, he also understands that he needs to find a practical solution to his precarious financial situation. As he rummages through old stuff in his basement, he comes across utensils which remind him of childhood memories, and the time he spent with his grandfather looking for gold nuggets. Hopeful and also happy to resume an activity which brought him fond memories, the old man gathers his tools and ventures into the wilderness.
The story is a simple one, which fortunately doesn’t bring politics into the mix, and instead retains a fully personal angle throughout. It shows that it is never too late to do something that one started many years before. It also shows that sometimes, solutions are easier than expected, and all it takes is a bit of determination and ‘originality’ to venture off the beaten path. Just because something fell from mainstream use doesn’t mean that it becomes a fruitless venture. The film holds plenty of wisdom in its take, even though the finale may raise questions about the ultimate aim of the message.
‘Downstream’ is well shot, capturing a sense of sorrow and helplessness whilst indoors, whereas showing optimism and limitless potential when the perspective shifts to the great outdoors. The mood follows suit, and the music which accompanies the main character on his various emotional shifts complements his feelings. It may be a tad bit too intrusive at times, and here and there it could have used a bit more editing work in order to smoothen the transitions between scenes and grant more fluidity to the overall project, but all things considered, it gets the job done.
‘Downstream’ might not be a masterpiece, but it is a simple tale about how simple solutions have the potential of overcoming considerable problems. Staying true to its title in more ways than one, it also offers an ultimate conclusion to the story, but this seems to be more relevant to the case study employed here, and not is necessarily meant to be universalized. The directing and camera work are notably praiseworthy, and the film offers a thoughtful story for the audience to chew on.