Undertow (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner05/08/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

Emotionally engaging, superbly acted and intriguingly directed drama that makes some subtly powerful points.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Javier Fuentes-Leon, Undertow (or Contracorriente, original title fans) is set in Peru and stars Cristian Mercado as Miguel, a respected fisherman in a remote coastal fishing village whose wife Mariela (Tatiana Astengo) is expecting their first child. However, Miguel is secretly having a homosexual affair with local painter Santiago (Manolo Cardona), while insisting that he's not gay.

When Santiago urges Miguel to come out of the closet, he refuses, fearful of the effect on both his wife and his reputation within the community. However, after a tragic accident, Santiago appears to Miguel as a ghost and asks him to help lay his soul to rest, since he's the only one who can see or hear him.

The Good
Mercado is excellent as Miguel, delivering a heartfelt performance that manages to hold the audience's sympathy even when he behaves in a shockingly self-serving manner. Cardona is equally good and there's strong support from both Tatiana Astengo and from Cindy Diaz as Isaura, a beautiful young woman who uncovers the truth about Miguel, in part because he doesn't make a move on her when given the opportunity.

The script plays it very close to the chest at times, to the point where you're often not entirely sure where Fuentes-Leon's own sympathies lie. However, the moment when the characters realise that now that Santiago is dead, the two men can be together openly (Miguel can still touch him) is subtly powerful and ultimately forms the emotional heart of the film.

The Great
The film is beautifully shot throughout, with Mauricio Vidal's cinematography making terrific use of the coastal landscapes. Fuentes-Leon also creates a convincingly claustrophobic portrait of an isolated community where, frankly, it's a miracle that the affair stays a secret as long as it does.

Worth seeing?
Undertow is a well made, emotionally engaging and superbly acted drama that makes some subtly powerful points. Worth seeing.

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Undertow (15)
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Content updated: 24/10/2017 05:20

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