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The Munns, father John and sons Chris and Tim, recede to the woods of rural Georgia. Their life together is forever changed with the arrival of Uncle Deel, though the tragedy that follows forces troubled Chris to become a man. Written by
Devon Alan could not attend the wrap party as he was too young, so there was a special party given so he could be included. See more »
Chris and Tim start down the staircase to escape the house, Tim has a backpack slung over his left shoulder. The backpack is gone when they reach the bottom of the steps. Later, when they run up to their room, Chris packs some items in the backpack that is lying on the bed. See more »
Let me see your knife. Can I carve my name in your face?
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The producers wish to thank the faculty, staff and students of the Savannah College of Art and Design ... Matt, Mike and Michelle and The Savannah Theater ... Carol and Guy of Pinkie Masters. See more »
John (Dermot Mulroney) is a single father living in backwoods Georgia with his two sons, teenaged Chris (Jamie Bell) and younger Tim (Devon Alan). Their quiet and routine lives are disrupted with the arrival of Deel (Josh Lucas), John's estranged brother. They decide to try to work things out and become a family, but competitiveness gets the best of the two men, secrets are revealed, and this quickly leads to horrific violence. The two kids escape the situation only to find themselves being hunted across the state.
The opening credits have a 70s Dukes of Hazzard feel (ostensibly the filmmaker's way of letting us know in which decade this story is set, as the isolated existence of the family gives no indication) that includes random freeze-frames. This is an early clue that this movie is going to be a unique experience. The freeze-frames become distracting (and seemingly arbitrary) when they return later interspersed throughout the film, but they help to loosen up the exciting (but excruciating!) introduction. The cinematography throughout this film is absolutely gorgeous and makes rural Georgia appear to be some sort of poverty-stricken fantasy land.
The performances are excellent. Mulroney and Lucas, two typical supporting Hollywood heartthrobs that some might say are miscast, actually play well off of each other and are very believable as brothers. The child actors are phenomenal, which is important as the story belongs to these two boys who are suddenly faced with violence that changes their lives. The plot borders on a twisted fairytale--it even involves gold coins! This seems silly at times, but considering this movie is told through the perspective of two young boys, it is somehow fitting.
The movie is at times quirky and filled with charming weirdness. Tim, in particular, is a fascinating character that has some sort of eating disorder where his body rejects food but craves things like paint, mud, and worms. The supporting characters the boys meet on their journey are equally bizarre. Some scenes come across as ridiculous or absurd, but Undertow is a film that is rich in both symbolism and metaphor and it is necessary to look for the deeper meaning of such scenes.
Alternately charming and disturbing, Undertow is a powerful film about the horrors of betrayal and family violence, and the beauty of forgiveness. Highly recommended, but be warned that the violence is graphic and very difficult to watch.
My Rating: 8/10
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