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.
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.
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.
April 29, 2015
Very well done. Tender, thoughtful and full of angst. Tries to express the complications of the major players -- the young gay painter, the married protagonist about to have a child, his wife who is caught in a situation for which she is unprepared. Also, does a good job of handling the cultural distain by adding characters whose humanity overcomes their prejudices, who step up and defy the more conventional elements around them. Best movie about gay men I've ever seen on Netflix.
July 1, 2012
A beautiful film on so many levels. Undertow evokes so much emotion without even trying, with superb acting from the entire cast. The show felt so natural and real, not falling prey to cliches and fairy tales. Undertow is gem of a film, plain and simple.
August 26, 2014
A beautiful film both visually and emotionally. It made me think of Brokeback Mountain a bit.
½ May 13, 2014
The most extraordinary thing about this most beautiful film is something that I wouldn't have known if I hadn't taken my eyes from the screen during a pivotal early reveal (subtitles; my Peruvian is rubbish). It makes total and sublime metaphoric sense without that knowledge. A sparkling, salty gem.
July 19, 2013
Absolutamente recomendada. Pocas veces he ido a ver una película con tan pocas expectativas y me he ido tan gratamente sorprendido
July 5, 2013
Surprisingly great cast and a very good plot. It took me a little bit to engage with the story and to get a handle on the characters, but from the middle to the end I got totally taken in by all the characters. It was moving, bittersweet and beautiful.
April 19, 2013
You know those movies you have on your Netflix queue that you never watch because you added it in a queuing frenzy? Well, I watched one of those forgotten movies. And I was moved. I have never seen a romantic drama approached in this manner and I must say it was heart wrenching. I recommend it 100%, especially to those who enjoy foreign films (if we're friends, you should), queer themes and the complications that arise when those themes clash with traditional values, religion, and masculinity.
February 17, 2013
excelente peli... <3
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.
½ February 6, 2011
One of the most beautiful and underrated movies of 2009, Undertow is a fresh, haunting look on the classic coming-out story. This film adeptly illustrates the complex relationships between Miguel, his male lover, and his pregnant wife. The magical-realism inspired metaphor works perfectly in the small, conservative village that Miguel inhabits, framed by the large, menacing ocean. I highly recommend seeing this gorgeous and touching film.
December 12, 2012
Super film, hits all the right notes, despite the 'supernatural' element which normally would make me squirm. Gay man in denial because of social pressures - people behaving well in a small reactionary rural community. Brilliant photography and a well thought out narrative. Top marks.
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