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In a tiny traditional peruvian seaside village miguel a young fisherman and his beautiful bride mariela are about to welcome their first child. But miguel has a secret: hes in love with santiago a painter who is ostracized by the town because hes gay. Studio: Wolfe Video Release Date: 05/31/2011 Run time: 100 minutes Rating: Nr
Top Customer Reviews
Undertow is a Peruvian film, set in a remote coastal village. It centres on a fisherman, his wife, and the fisherman's male lover who is a painter. It is at heart the coming out story of the fisherman, but to reduce it to that is like calling Brokeback Mountain a "gay cowboy movie." You watch the complexity and impossibility of the situation mount until it seems there is no way out. I don't want to ruin it for you by telling you the plot, but trust me, you won't be disappointed. The lover, by the way, is played by the man who the director tells us in his commentary is Peru's Brad Pitt. No, the painter has Brad Pitt beat hands down.
The subtitles are quite adequate, and for you Spanish speakers, Peruvian Spanish is clear and easily understood. Notice the importance of the word "guapa" (translated in the subtitles as "swell") which first alerts the wife that something is going on between her husband and the painter.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
summary did not immediately grab me. Then it got several film awards including Sundance
Audience Favorite in its category, and a friend urged me to see it. I was just not prepared
for the perfect story, the absolutely convincing moving acting, the stunning physical
setting in Cabo Blanco and the cinematography, the music. I saw it more than once and each time found more and
more in it. This writer/director (Javier Fuentes-Leon) has incredible talent and instincts,
and he worked on the script for close to a decade until it was really everything it needed
to be. Again and again I was asking myself, how did he manage to pull off THAT effect with
such simple means? This film goes right to the heart of what it is to be human, to be in a
relationship, to be in a community. And, how can we reconcile the irreconcilable parts of
our lives such that we can look unflinching into the mirror? The subtitling is very natural
which is not surprising since the Peruvian director works in LA and is fluent in English. I
only regret so few people are going to be able to see these sweeping beaches, caves and
cliffs in the theater, but I'm glad it is going to be released so soon (June 2011) on DVD
and Blu-ray. Stunning as is its effect the first time, when you don't when what is going to
happen or when, it loses nothing on the repetition because nothing was contrived. I just
started appreciating the minor characters, the unobtrusive but effective symbols, the perfectly laid-out music, all the more. In other words, a perfect film for DVD/Blu-ray !
(Do view the interviews with the director and actors--they are wonderful)
According to the writer/director, the story 'takes place in a small conservative seaside village in Peru. On the surface, all appears well for a fisherman and his devoted wife who are expecting their first baby. The hero is a hardworking and respected member of his community, which holds fast to rigid traditions. There is one wrinkle - he is also devoted to his male lover. A catastrophic accident does not erase the presence of his lover, as the fisherman must now contend with the apparitions of his forbidden love and the gossip and disapproving stares of his neighbors. And it may go without saying - his wife isn't too pleased either.'
Miguel (Cristian Mercado) is the little fisherman who seems to have it all - a loving wife Mariela (Tatiana Astengo), a solid group of friends and family, and the incipient birth of his first child. But Miguel is a closeted gay man/bisexual who is in love with a painter/photographer, the handsome Santiago (Manolo Cardona) who seems content to maintain a relationship with Miguel in secret. But there is an accident in which one of Miguel's young friends dies and Miguel is asked by the family to prepare the body for burial, carry the boy on a bamboo stretcher, offer a eulogy and then take the body out to sea to bury it in the water - an old tradition in this small Peruvian fishing village that assures that the dead person's soul will find rest.
Santiago takes photos of the funeral procession and it is obvious that the townspeople gossip about the painter - a man who paints pictures and is not married is suspect and homophobia rages. As Mariela gives birth to their son Miguelito, Miguel is torn between his devotion to his wife and son and his desire for Santiago's physical presence. In a series of beautifully realized love scenes between the two men it is obvious that there is a struggle on the part of both Miguel and Santiago: they love each other but that love is forbidden. Santiago appears to Miguel one night and says that he is dead, that Miguel is the sole person able to see Santiago's ghost. This allows Miguel and Santiago to be together in the village, as Santiago cannot be seen: they are able at last to love each other in the open. But the village discovers that the missing Santiago's home contained nude paintings of men - men who appear to be images of Miguel. The village treats Miguel as an outcast, his wife is outraged and leaves, and Miguel feels he has lost everything. Santiago's family come to claim the body and Miguel finally has the courage to be the man he really is. The film ends with a deeply moving tradition upheld.
Both Cristian Mercado and Manolo Cardona handle their difficult roles brilliantly: their physical chemistry is visceral and their dealing with the Peruvian prejudice is poignant. But each of the actors is excellent. The cinematography by Mauricio Vidal captures the flavor of the Peruvian seaside and the many underwater scenes are breathtaking. Selma Mutal Vermeulen provides the musical score that is the perfect balance of folksongs and background music. But in the end it is writer/director Javier Fuentes-León who deserves the kudos for a brilliant film that took considerable courage to make. Hopefully we will be seeing more of his work in the near future. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, June 11