Chris (Jamie Bell of Billy Elliot) is a volatile teen who lives with his father, John (Dermot Mulroney), and his little brother, Tim (Devon Alan). After the death of Chris' mother, his reclusive father moved the family to a shack in backwoods Georgia, where they raise hogs. Tim has an unusual eating disorder. He is constantly making himself sick by eating things like dirt and paint. One day, John's estranged brother, Deel (Josh Lucas), gets out of prison and shows up on the farm. John is less than thrilled to see him, but agrees to let him stay with the family as long as Deel helps him look after his boys. Chris is drawn to his wild-man uncle, but it soon becomes clear that Deel has more on his mind than a family reunion. Greed and years of resentment lead to violence, and Chris finds himself on the run, towing his sickly brother along, with Deel in pursuit. Undertow is writer/director David Gordon Green's third feature film, and features many of the same crew as his previous films, George Washington and All the Real Girls, including cinematographer Tim Orr. Green, who co-wrote the script with Joe Conway, has cited the influence of filmmaker Terrence Malick, who is credited as a producer. Green was also influenced by low-budget regional films of the 1970s (like Macon County Line and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and by Charles Laughton's classic The Night of the Hunter. Undertow was selected by the Film Society of Lincoln Center for inclusion in the 2004 New York Film Festival. … More
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Critic Reviews for Undertow
A deep-fried piece of Southern Gothic that wears its unpleasantness like a merit badge...
Green's signature pastoral tangents and codeine pacing don't slow down this tale of two boys fleeing their psychotic uncle so much as inappropriately slacken any of the story's suspenseful aspects.
Green's characters often find themselves in raw, unprotected moments, but Undertow also can feel a little too mesmerized by its own junkyard visions.
Green is all surface and no depth in his effort to channel the late novelist William Faulkner.
There's certainly nothing wrong with trying to make a movie visually pleasing, but it shouldn't come until after there's a good plot and intriguing characters.
A tense and entertaining murder thriller about redemption and greed...
While it has lulls and sleepy moments, Undertow also full of startling truths and beauties, as well as offering a window into a side of the country that movies rarely bother to look at.
The actors grapple manfully with the ersatz rural poetry of the dialogue, but Green's pacing is slow and self-indulgent, and the action often departs from recognizable human behavior.
Green's most accessible film to date, yet he keeps his directorial style very close to the way it's always been. Slow, patient, revelatory.
Structured like a fairytale and driven like a fast boat down a leafy river, Undertow expertly blends myth and suspense to create a fable with a wicked sense of humor and an appetite for destruction.
A poetic, atmospheric drama that's worth seeing despite Green's struggle to blend character drama with more conventional thrills.
It will likely polarize his critics further, causing some to recoil at his welcoming of influences, and others to be thankful for more "Malick-lite."
Bell is superb as Chris and he completely nails the difficult Southern accent; if you hadn't seen Billy Elliot, you'd swear he was someone Green had picked off the street
While the first hour promises something very special indeed, the build-up is squandered once the two brothers take flight with not enough sense of danger or urgency to hold your attention.
Bad in the worst way, yet it trails clouds of glory and authentic stink from a Georgia pigsty. Pretty, a legitimate auteurist statement. And a flop.
While the disparate elements at times seem to be struggling against each other like cats in a sack, an undeniable current of urgency runs through the film.
It plays like nothing more than an exceedingly well-written Friday the 13th sequel.
Undertow may throw off viewers expecting a more straightforward thriller. But hang with it, and enjoy the thrill of being drawn into these characters' lives.
Audience Reviews for Undertow
Looked promising, but ultimately underwhelming. Also, Kristen Stewart is in this for about ten minutes, if that, so don't let that be a deciding factor in watching this!
The first few minutes seemed interesting and it had it's moments, including a small appearance by Shiri Appleby, but I just found it did not hold my attention particularly well.
Jamie Bell, Devon Alan, Dermot Mulrony, Josh Lucas, Kristen Stewart
"Can I carve my name in your face?"
David Gordon Green is surely becoming one of my favorite directors. I have read that they call his directing "Southern Gothic". I like it. His movie's are not predictable.
Undertow is set in the South of Georgia, and its a dramatic thriller about two brothers, Chris and Tom, who are on the run from their greedy Uncle Deel after the death of their father. It's really sad. The youngest brother is ill and likes to eat odd things like paint and mudd. On their journey they come in contact with some characters that help them on their way.
Really great performances from Devon Alan. He becomes the character, it's like he isn't even trying. Loved that, exspecially for him being so young. Jamie Bell is a favorite of mine. I thought he was amazing. Josh Lucas was really good. Seen a few of his movies lately and I really like his work acting.
Southern Gothic tale of a family in crisis. Jamie Bell plays Chris Munn, a volatile teen who runs away from home, bringing his sickly brother along. Deel Munn, the boys' uncle, pursues them. Why, is a question best left answered by watching the movie. However, the reason will be the only excitement you'll find in this rather uninteresting film. The random characters the boys meet along the way are a poor excuse for a plot. Two plusses: another great score by master composer Philip Glass and some stylish cinematography by Tim Orr.More
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