Undertow - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Undertow Reviews

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Super Reviewer
February 2, 2012
At face value, this is a good film. Great cast, believable dialog, location that is intriguing but not distracting.

It's not until you start to dig a little deeper and really think about all of the symbolism and emotions (both spoken and unspoken), that you start to realize what a beautiful and heartbreaking love story it is.
Super Reviewer
½ July 18, 2010
Beautiully wrought story of a man coming to grips with his true self. Exquisite performances with Cristian Mercado absolutely riveting in the lead. This isn't a film that provides easy answers or comforting assurances, life in this village is a tough ingrained macho stronghold even though a small glimmer of progession is allowed to shine though near the end. Mercado shows the intense struggle the main character must navigate to not only make peace with a crushing tragedy but learn how to align his moral code with something that could cost him everything he hasn't already lost. Deeply affecting and well worh seeking out.
Super Reviewer
May 11, 2012
In the beginning, there is the belly, of very, very pregnant Mariela(Tatiana Astengo) who is enjoying some down time with her husband Miguel(Christian Mercado). That is interrupted by his cousin Tano(Juan Pablo Olivos) who wants him to preside over his brother's burial at sea, per local custom. Otherwise, life goes on in his fishing village where Santiago(Manolo Cardona), a handsome artist, has taken up residence and is having a torrid secret affair with Miguel. Santiago also takes the time to buy Mariela a candle at the market. So, when Santiago shows up unannounced in his house one morning, Miguel is angry but it is nowhere near close to what he is thinking...

"Undertow" has some beautiful footage, a neat premise and respect for local traditions. But the movie suffers from a near fatal case of indecision that leads to a slow pace that cannot be explained away by the leisurely rhythm of life in this village. The movie would want us to believe the indecision is due to Miguel not being able to make up his mind who to be with, but I have no problem with bisexuality. Admittedly, if he had acted decisively at one point about something else, it would have saved him a lot of trouble down the line. Rather, it is the story that has little direction after the plot kicks in, with the movie eventually just coming to a halt.
Super Reviewer
December 19, 2010
This unexpectedly lovely film from Peru is a sweet surprise. A gentle kind-of coming out story set in a Peruvian fishing village, it is also as tender as it is straight-forward, even when delving into a bit of magical realism territory. It's the story of a married fisherman in what seems like a perfectly happy marriage who is also deeply involved with a painter on the side. To give too much away would be robbing this simple story of some of its surprise, but suffice to say it's about a guy who has no intention of coming out and finds out life has other things in mind for him. Though some of the storytelling is a little on the blunt side, there is so much gentleness to the delivery of the story that it doesn't matter in the least. Beautifully acted by its three leads, it's a sweet surprise and should've gotten noticed by more people. Check it out!
Super Reviewer
November 25, 2010
This is a film to seek out and love. Peru's official Foreign Language Film entry for Academy Award consideration, UNDERTOW is a lyrical, gently, deeply moving tale of an unusual love triangle set in a remote Peruvian fishing village. All begins very sweetly as a man and his wife await the birth of their first child, but the fact that he has a secret male lover complicates matters. The turning point, which employs a bit of magical realism, is better left unsaid here, as I feel it's better for you to discover this wonderful film as it unfolds. Needless to say, the triangle proves to me a major dramatic element in the story, but it's the deliberate pacing, the wonderful performances of its three gorgeous leads, the stunning seaside imagery, and the respect writer/director Javier Fuentes-Leon has for his characters and the audiences, that puts this film a cut above. This is no "Oh Girl" gay film. It's vivid, fresh, and truly heartfelt. It's little wonder it won a major award at this year's Sundance Film Festival as well as countless others. If you don't live in NY or LA, call your local cinema and ask for it. If you live in the major cities, what are you sitting here for? Get out there and support independent cinema before 3D craptastic comic books become the norm, not the exception. Oops, too late.
July 1, 2013
Very nowadays story. Something that is real and at the same time shocking. Knowing that love can alter your life, even when you are not expecting it to happen.
A true life drama.
January 27, 2013
Odd supernatural melodrama. Not quite sure of its moral sensabilities, but it is beautifully shot and the cast perform very well. I just think that it wanders around for a bit before essentially going nowhere. The ending had me most confused. Is that a happy ending? What good came of it? Maybe it's just lost in translation.
December 22, 2012
One of my favorites on how reveals the emotions and the conflicts within a man who wants to hide his sexuality behind the comforts of a majority that think differently. Truly impressive
½ November 9, 2011
Delicioso. A grounded story with super-natural elements. Miguel, a married fisherman' in a small Peruvian seaside village, has been having an affair until his lover is drowned. The ghost of the lover begins haunting Miguel until the body is found and given a proper burial. Problem is Miguel has to do it. Miguel struggles with the task, afraid of being found out by an expecting wife he truly loves and the village community he is deeply a part of. Miguel begins to get comfortable with having a ghostly secret lover, yet the ghost is not so happy with the situation. Love, denial, betrayal, forgiveness all with a touch of comedy. Twists in the plot, explorations of love and sexuality are quietly explored and adroitly handled. Potential cliches are outdone by a clever approach, grounded dialogue and appealing characters. The filmmakers work wonders within their limitations here to produce an entertaining and emotionally stirring little film filmed in a lovely quaint part of Peru.
February 25, 2012
Miguel (Cristian Mercado) and Mariela (Tatiana Astengo) are happily married and expecting their first child. They live in a little village on the coast of Peru and life is good. Miguel works in the fishing business, the couple is surrounded with relatives and friends, they are active in their church, and Miguel has a secret. He's been having an affair with Santiago, a handsome young artist who gives everyone the creeps by taking pictures of them incessantly. Miguel really loves both Mariela and Santiago, and naturally is unwilling to destroy his family by coming out. He has a history with Mariela and now a child, but for Santiago he has passion.

This is a ghost story (you'll see) about love-the love between husbands and wives and the love for their family unit, the love of the people of the village for each other, the love of a lifestyle that's familiar, and the illicit love between Miguel and Santiago that threatens to break up Miguel's family. And finally, it's about the permanent decisions people make based on impermanent emotions.

I recommend this surprising little film and give it an 80%.
November 20, 2011
Sincere and heartbreakingly beautiful. I cried during alot of this movie. I don't remember ever crying so much over a movie. Brilliantly written/directed/acted. Definitely a must see.
½ September 25, 2011
Refreshingly sincere, morally complicated, and expertly acted, 'Undertow' has a choppy pace, but it's universal story (told through a gay lens) is compelling.
June 18, 2011
I really loved this film. It truly is a little gem!! The last two GLBT films I have seen from Latin America have been amazing.
June 10, 2011
It's been a long time coming since there's been a LGBT instant film classic on the horizon...keep some Kleenex on hand.
½ June 5, 2011
A moving story with magic realism infused about consciousness and the complexities of human relationships.
June 5, 2010
I missed this at the festivals but it's playing at the Varsity for one week only. One of the better gay themed films of the year! The last 20 minutes or so is very touching- everyone was sniffling - needed kleenex !
½ December 9, 2010
got the recommendation to watch this film from girard, which turned out to be an excellent tip since it's the best gay-themed movie i watched this year. magic realism, coming out, drama, social commentary, romance - rolled into a touching, sometimes poignant tale of love, heartbreak & redemption. the gorgeous setting equalled by the gorgeous men didn't hurt, either
½ December 5, 2010
I found the whole movie, Undertow, rather perverse in many ways and would not embrace this attempt to illustrate those without morality are human and feel pain and love. Yes, and a murderer about to be executed feels fear. Simply being human does not make anything you do OK. This man could have given his wife a serious disease and betrays trust and sacred vows. Period. I was not happy with the other reviews that focused on content, plot, dialogue and delivery. These were all good in this film. However, the same types of lauding could also be applied to Nazi propaganda films such as Triumph des Willens (Leni Riefenstahl.) It surely was a good movie, enrapturing, but fundamentally its still Nazi propaganda. I really get tired of this constant attempt to portray lack of morality as human and thus by extension all human behavior is OK.
October 26, 2010
A pesar de ciertos errores narrativos que a ratos podrían hacer sentir a la historia forzada, Contracorriente trasciende de todo morbo y llega a transmitir las pasiones sinceras de los personajes y el drama de su historia. Acompañado de las magníficas actuaciones de los tres protagonistas esta pelicula es un must watch.
½ January 18, 2016
A beautiful film and a pretty sad one too.Beautiful cinematography combined with an extremely sad and totally heart-breaking script,together with the exceptional acting form this tale of love,identiy and righteousness.Extremely belivable,really well-made.I'm a crying mess.
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