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View All Undertow News
All Critics (32)
| Top Critics (8)
| Fresh (28)
| Rotten (4)
This drama is a first feature by Javier Fuentes-Léon that manages to outgrow the limits of its story.
Reminiscent of such heavenly Hollywood fantasies as "Here Comes Mr. Jordan," Peru's "Undertow" suggests a more passionate, lyrical tale of a soul in search of a body.
Right from the start of Undertow, writer-director Javier Fuentes-Leon refuses to reduce any of his characters to clichés, which gives the film its fresh, captivating power.
Undertow, for all its narrative tricks, has been given the rhythm and texture of real life, as well as emotional undercurrents that are haunting.
Set in a small, picturesque Peruvian fishing village, it's less a coming-out tale than a magic realism-infused coming-of-consciousness love story.
The first part of the film is... slow-paced and antsy-making, with none of the sensitive and tragic character study of the second part.
[Director]Fuentes-Leon...does a solid job balancing characters and story and creates a sympathetic surreal tale.
Stunningly photographed by Mauricio Vidal, "Undertow" is about a ghost caught between his lover's private shame and a town's public traditions.
This poetic gem about loss and the consequences of a passionate but hidden gay relationship in a tiny ocean-side village of modest fishermen deservedly won Sundance's World Cinema Audience Award and represents Peru's bid for an Oscar nom.
A captivating, breathtaking and intricately layered amalgamation of heartfelt drama, romance and magical realism. It's one of the most powerful love stories since Brokeback Mountain.
More heart-tugging mélo than spooky thriller.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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