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Undertow (2004)


Average Rating: 5.9/10
Reviews Counted: 117
Fresh: 64
Rotten: 53

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Average Rating: 6.1/10
Reviews Counted: 37
Fresh: 21
Rotten: 16

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.


Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 7,208




Movie Info

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 … More

R (for violence)
Mystery & Suspense , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
Joseph Conway , Joe Conway , David Gordon Green
In Theaters:
Apr 26, 2005


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Critic Reviews for Undertow

All Critics (120) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (64) | Rotten (53) | DVD (11)

A deep-fried piece of Southern Gothic that wears its unpleasantness like a merit badge...

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | August 16, 2007
Time Out New York
Top Critic

Green's characters often find themselves in raw, unprotected moments, but Undertow also can feel a little too mesmerized by its own junkyard visions.

December 10, 2004
Denver Rocky Mountain News
Top Critic

The film's first half is hypnotically watchable.

Full Review… | December 9, 2004
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic

Green is all surface and no depth in his effort to channel the late novelist William Faulkner.

Full Review… | November 19, 2004
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | November 11, 2004
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

a drag-down bore

Full Review… | September 7, 2010
Cinema Writer

A tense and entertaining murder thriller about redemption and greed...

Full Review… | April 29, 2009
Cinema Crazed

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.

Full Review… | February 27, 2009

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.

Full Review… | August 7, 2008
Sacramento News & Review

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.

Full Review… | December 6, 2005
Film Threat

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.

Full Review… | December 6, 2005
Film Threat

A poetic, atmospheric drama that's worth seeing despite Green's struggle to blend character drama with more conventional thrills.

Full Review… | June 25, 2005
Empire Magazine

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."

Full Review… | June 21, 2005
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

A front-loaded film, sure, but what a front.

Full Review… | June 21, 2005

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

Full Review… | June 18, 2005

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.

Full Review… | June 17, 2005
Daily Mirror [UK]

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.

Full Review… | March 9, 2005
Seattle Weekly

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.

February 24, 2005
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

It plays like nothing more than an exceedingly well-written Friday the 13th sequel.

Full Review… | January 24, 2005

A portrait of the rural South that engages all five senses

Full Review… | January 15, 2005
Movie Habit

[Not] a very appealing viewing experience.

Full Review… | January 14, 2005
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

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.

Full Review… | January 14, 2005
Salt Lake Tribune

Green may think he's the next Terence Malick. His amateurishly ambitious movies tell otherwise.

Full Review… | January 3, 2005

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.

Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer

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.


Super Reviewer


Heartbreaking yet very fulfilling in accomplishment.

Leigh Ryan

Super Reviewer

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.

Mark Hobin

Super Reviewer

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