Reviews for November 26th, 2010
Directed by Javier Fuentes-León.
In Spanish with subtitles. Miguel (Cristian Mercado), a fisherman, lives in a small, seaside village on the Peruvian coast with his wife, Mariela (Tatiana Astengo), who’s expecting a baby. When he meets Santiago (Manolo Cardona), a younger, gay painter, he develops an attraction to him and, soon enough, the two of them sneak off to have sex on and around the beach. Miguel pretends to be straight around his wife, friends and villagers, and he won’t even admit to himself or Santiago that he’s gay, but whenever he’s around Santiago, he feels the kind of lust and passion that’s missing from the relationship between him and his wife. Santiago has managed to awaken feelings inside Miguel that he had bottled up for many years because of his fear and the homophobic villagers who would look down upon him as an outcast if they were to find out the truth. Miguel’s reputation, marriage and life itself are all at stake because he follows his innate, suppressed feelings for Santiago. The plot shifts gears into supernatural territory when Santiago drowns and reemerges near Miguel as a ghost. Wisely, writer/director Javier Fuentes-León keeps the film grounded by turning the ghost of Santiago into magical realism that never feels like a gimmick. Santiago’s ghost symbolizes Miguel’s passionate feelings for Santiago which he simply can’t let go, especially after his death. Fuentes-León includes other symbolisms, such as the sea and its titular undercurrent, which further enrich the film in lyricism. What keeps the film truly engrossing, though, is the impact that Santiago’s death has on Miguel, and how Mariela reacts when she learns the truth about him. Perhaps she suspected early-on that he’s secretly friends with Santiago because of a rarely-spoken word, “guapa,” that he uses for the first time in front of her. Santiago had used that word when Mariela bumped into him at the local market, but she may not have known the precise nature of their relationship. Santagio’s purchase of a candle which he generously gives to Mariela also serves as a small event that becomes more important later on. Undertow may seem simple on the surface, but it's details like those which turn it into an a smartly-written, complex drama. Moreover, the cinematography looks breathtakingly beautiful and serene in such a way that provides a sharp contrast to the film’s tragic themes and somber moods. At a running time of 1 hour and 40 minutes, Undertow is 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.
Number of times I checked my watch: 0 Opens at the Cinema Village. Center.Released by Wolfe Releasing.
Directed by T.J. Collins.
Number of times I checked my watch: 2 Opens at the Quad Cinema. Center.Released by Poseidon Productions.