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Undertow (2004)

6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 6,456 users   Metascore: 63/100
Reviews: 63 user | 73 critic | 30 from Metacritic.com

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 ... See full summary »

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Title: Undertow (2004)

Undertow (2004) on IMDb 6.7/10

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Chris Munn
...
...
Bern
...
Officer Clayton
...
John Munn
...
Tim Munn
...
Deel Munn
...
Wadsworth Pela
...
Amica Pela
Charles 'Jester' Poston ...
Hard Hat Dandy
Mark Darby Robinson ...
Conway
...
Grant the Mechanic
...
Muriel the Cashier (as Leigh Hill)
Alfred M. Jackson ...
Dock Worker
William D. Turner ...
Dock Worker
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Storyline

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 IMDb Editors

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 December 2004 (Greece)  »

Also Known As:

The Undertow  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$24,354 (USA) (22 October 2004)

Gross:

$24,947 (USA) (22 October 2010)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| |

Color:

(one scene)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

David Gordon Green originally wanted to title the film "The Narrow Pilgrim," focusing on Tim in his pilgrim costume at Thanksgiving. The original story was going to put Tim more in the focus, along with his eating disorder. He is thin and ratty, due to his pica condition, and in a pilgrim costume: "The Narrow Pilgrim." However, he quickly began to change it due it him discovering that it would not be a very marketable title. See more »

Goofs

When the black woman they take refuge with is in the bedroom, she finds the contact details of the boys written on the inside flap of the backpack. Later when the boys run away because they find out their uncle is coming, they just run straight from where they were outside, with no detours to pick up the backpack. However, later, Tim is shown with the backpack. See more »

Quotes

Chris Munn: Hey Tim.
Tim Munn: Yeah?
Chris Munn: Guess what.
Tim Munn: What?
Chris Munn: There's a cow.
Tim Munn: I know.
Chris Munn: I wanna milk the hell out of it
See more »

Crazy Credits

[at the start of the film] The following film was made with the assistance of the Drees County law enforcement agencies and the surviving family of John W. Munn. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Under the Undertow (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Pistols of Gold
Written and Performed by Bill McKinney
Courtesy of Cut One Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Southern Gothic
11 June 2009 | by (prejudicemadeplausible.wordpress.com) – See all my reviews

A Southern Gothic fairytale directed by David Gordon Green and shot by his regular DP Tim Orr and scored by Phillip Glass with a cast of superb actors young and old. Doesn't that sound too good to be true? The critical consensus when the film was originally released, bar raves from Jonathan Rosenbaum and Roger Ebert and positive notices from other reputable sources such as the New York Times, Village Voice, AV Club, and Chicago Tribune, seemed to suggest, basically, that it was. Lots of talk about David Gordon Green and Southern Gothic being a clumsy fit (totally ludicrous suggestion), there being no real movie beneath the allusions and style (banal critic-speak), and more banal critic-speak dismissing the film as a derivative mess.

I suppose my opinion is no more valid than that of those who dismissed the film, but "Undertow" strikes me, with five viewings of it under my belt, as David Gordon Green's best and most interesting film. The characters are well-developed within the ideals and ideas of the story and film. My fiancée's biggest problem with the film was the characterization of the villain played by Josh Lucas. He shows up snarling and menacing and remains so for the movie, given clear motivation but hardly 'well-developed'. However, the movie seems to be perfectly content with following the traditional style of the Southern Gothic story, the chase movie, and the fairytale. This villain might not be the best-developed in film history, but he works within the story.

The screenwriters, director David Gordon Green and co-writer Joe Conway (an English teacher apparently, you can tell just by watching the movie), write their characters to fit within a certain ideal, and as such one could argue that most of the characters in "Undertow" are mythic figures more than characters, with the focus being largely on the two brothers at the core of the story, played by the immensely talented young actors Jamie Bell and Devon Alan.

The film's predictability appears to be an issue for many but I like how earnest Gordon Green and his cast and crew are in telling this story. I like that there's no cheap hipster irony. The reason it's predictable is that it's been done a thousand times before, but clearly nobody involved thinks there was a problem with doing it again. Where I disagree with several critics and IMDb reviewers is on the idea that "Undertow" doesn't distinguish itself from those which came before. I disagree. All a film needs to distinguish itself is quality, and "Undertow" has plenty of that. It's remarkably well-written, outside some narrative confusion, and Tim Orr's gloomy Southern Gothic imagery match perfectly with what is easily Phillip Glass' most underrated score, and one of his very best overall, creating a stark, beautiful atmosphere. David Gordon Green again focuses more on ambiance and character, but also seems more interested here than in his earlier films in telling a single story, but does so with a decisive preference for story over 'plot'.

Perhaps the victim of unfair and incorrect expectations, "Undertow" seems to have at least held on to a relatively high reputation, and hopefully will be remembered in the future for the masterpiece it is. Looked at for what it is, a fanciful tale of the bond between two brothers and their journey together, including numerous episodic encounters along the way (again the fairytale aspect comes into play) and not really the gritty chase film some critics seem to have mistaken it for, "Undertow" is a unique triumph. A tour-de-force from a director below the age of 30 blessed with class and sophistication and intelligence and a cinematographer and composer and cast who seemed destined to make this film.


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