Contracorriente (2009) Poster

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I'm Caught in the Undertow
Sandro Santoli28 March 2011
I know a movie is excellent when the day after seeing it I still have a pit in my stomach as I did after watching this one. I know there are going to be some great reviews written about this so I'm only going to add to the momentum briefly without trying to find ways to get you to watch this one.

I felt bad for nearly every character in this movie...not just for those directly experiencing the effects of forbidden love but also for society observing it. Here, a seaside village in Peru questions its own moral code when a well-liked member of the community must decide whether to place his love for another man before social acceptance. Superb acting, character evolution, simple but engaging plot, and exhausting emotion all converge in this touching story.
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Love, Magic and Cristian Mercado
M. J Arocena26 August 2010
Profoundly moving. A fishing village that seems to come out of somebody's dream. A loving husband about to become a father and a forbidden love. Cristian Mercado in a beautifully drawn performance takes us into his own predicament with honesty and astonishing tenderness. The emotional details of his love for another man are nothing short of extraordinary. I saw the film a couple of day ago at The Latino Film Festival of Los Angeles and Cristian Mercado's face has been with me ever since. Born and bread in a deeply religious Peruvian community, he accepts his feelings but denies the truth of his own nature. Being a man of unshakable, even if unconscious, integrity he will be who he's suppose to be, with courage an kindness. I must confess, I wept. Glad to know it got an American distribution. It deserves to be seen. Congratulations.
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Remarkable--MUST SEE
pdquick9 October 2010
This film was the "buzz film" at Frameline, the San Francisco LGBT film festival. It is now in very limited commercial release. I saw it for the second time this week and it's as powerful on the second viewing as the first. It's beautifully filmed in a stunningly picturesque Peruvian fishing village. It features tender and complex performances by the actors in the lead roles, and wonderful authentic performances by native residents of the village location. The story delivers a powerful study in internal conflict, grief, redemption, and the power of love. The director says that the idea for the story came from a screen writing-class assignment to write a scene that happens in a kitchen. The kitchen scene is indeed pivotal to the story, but the moral intricacy of the tale surrounding that scene is testament to a creative genius that you will want to hear more from. You will want to see this film again, and you will want your friends to see it, because the world needs more filmmakers like this.
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Your Heart Will Be Moved
aharmas26 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Cristian, Manolo, and Tatiana, what a trio of performances, all in a foreign film, and in a story that takes place in a small village no one has ever heard of, but its themes of acceptance, love, tolerance, and compassion should appeal to every single member of the audience. The film doesn't break any new grounds, but its execution, mostly with the help of these three actors will touch you and move you to tears.

In a nutshell, two lovers must confront their doomed love, as one finds himself in purgatory and tries to find a solution to their dilemma. From the beginning it's obvious that Santiago and Miguel have a relationship that is special and goes beyond their physical attraction. Throughout the film, we discover, they have a history, and, like "Brokeback Mountain", things don't quite work out. To make things more complicated, there is a pregnant and lovely wife, and there is true affection in the marriage, but it's a small place, minds are not open, and there is the little marriage of jealousy, sexual attraction, and local gossip.

Miguel, eventually must choose the best possible path; this might mean complete repudiation by his community and the end of his marriage. However, this sacrifice might be necessary in order to save the soul of his beloved. Yes, it sounds complicated and a bit far fetched in paper, but the beautiful script uses simple exchanges to deliver the message, to show us what tortures the souls of the trio, and how the community copes with the drama.

Living in a small community usually means everyone knows your name and your business. There is no isolation from anything or anybody, and rumours usually are based or shaded by truth and/or a strong dose of envy. Soon, we have the local wench spreading gossip, and things become even more problematic for the married couple.

Eventually, the film reaches its conclusion, and there are plenty of satisfying, heart wrenching moments as everyone must face the harsh understanding of what is coming. There are moments of pure love and hope, as Miguel makes his decision. It is not over, but a chapter is closed, and hopefully everyone has learned a lesson that will make them become much better beings.
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Hauntingly beautiful movie!
kimbistrups14 November 2012
Contracorriente (Undertow) is simply a gem of beautifully shot pictures, perfectly cast actors, an extraordinarily well written script and masterful direction.

I did not initially expect Contracorriente to be a movie that would haunt me for days after watching it, as it seemed to be a perfectly straight forward story judging from the text on the back of the DVD-case. I was even a bit worried that it might be cliché or simply cheesy. It was not however. Not more than a few minutes into the movie I started to suspect that I might have grossly misjudged the nature of the film and I was happy to be proved wrong.

The locations, the people, the acting, the language were all so beautiful and the very delicate and slowly evolving story made for so much more than simple entertainment. Especially the subtle hint of possibility in the ending left a very warm and hopeful feeling but the movie as a whole makes a very strong and lasting impression.

I was very moved by this movie and the very strong statement that it makes and a variety of the most beautiful and strong scenes have stayed in my thoughts for days on end for both the sad parts and the joyous moments.

I can only recommend that you watch it if you haven't already - and I am looking forward to seeing it again soon myself and expect it to be something that I will do more than once.
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A masterclass in acting
César Silvestre23 October 2010
There are lots of things that are not told to us in the beginning or middle of this movie. We do not know who are the characters, where they came from or how they started their relationships. The truth is, we do not need to know that. What we need and by the end of the movie what we want to acknowledge is that this is a movie about love (or different types of love). A movie about grieve and it's most different ways of being expressed. A movie about people and about the way they struggle through their lives to hide what they really are and what or who they really role. This is a movie about loss and pain and also about joy and happiness. In the end, this a movie about being human.

The script is remarkable and it runs away from the clichés and the preconceived ideas you might take while you are walking in the projection room. But even more remarkable are the 3 main characters and the actors who portray them. Cristian Mercado delivers a masterclass in acting. By a comfortable mile, one of the best male acting performances of the year. What is most admirable is the way Mercado can express Miguel's painful grievance: the loss of his lover, the acceptance of what he really his and the loss of his beloved wife and son - there are no hysteric portraits of loss. What you get to see is a outstanding performance focused on the facial and physical expression. Also fantastic the the performance by the Mexican actress Tatiana Astengo.

Could this be one of the front runners for the Best Foreing Language movie of the year? No doubt about it.
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A beautiful, unique and creative film, and one of the most rewarding experiences I've had at a feature film in a long time!
russellld23 June 2010
One of the best new films exploring gay male identity, love and relationships, and likely will be a worthy addition to many personal "favorite gay films" lists, although the fact that the film is set in a town, and to some extent a culture, where, at least for a large part of the story, many in the town have not yet evolved in their views of LGBT people and issues, created some (ultimate unnecessary) anxiety for me early in the film, and at parts throughout, as to whether the film would be a throwback to older, more stereotyped and limited representations and stories of gay life, although those anxieties were not only relieved by the end of the film, but, as I suggested, the film is an extremely valuable addition to the new wave of gay cinema.

The writer, director, casting director and cast, cinematographer, set designer and other members of the film-making team also do a great job exploring rural, small town life, with its traditions (religious and otherwise...) superstitions, and class differences, and the interplay among the individuals, families and community who inhabit the town, along with the welcome (or rejection...) given to a stranger who comes there, and who many perceive as a threat to the social fabric of the town, and the support (or lack of it...) the townspeople and characters show to each other, ultimately examining the struggle between bigotry and ignorance, on the one hand, and the struggle to overcome that bigotry and ignorance, and replace it with support, respect and love on the other. Most of the townspeople are not financially well-off, but make just enough to get by, working in occupations connected to fishing and the sea, and the way they relate, individually and as a community, to each other (and to themselves, in regard to what is the true definition of a man, of an individual's self-respect) in light of a newcomer who is more financially well-off, and his artistic and suspected sexual/relationship interests, are additional themes of the film, which play out so well in a beautiful, interesting and captivating way, often evoking strong emotions, and at times offering an inspiring catharsis (and perhaps a few tears, in reaction to some sadness, and much beauty.)

And there are many other highlights of the film beyond all that, including the amazingly beautiful setting, in a rural, seaside Peruvian village, the cinematography, musical score, performances, plot twists and turns, the mix of fantasy and reality (and moments where it's unclear to what extent fantasy exists as an aspect of the story's reality.) This is a truly unique and creative film, and one of the most rewarding experiences I've had at a feature film in a long time.
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A story about love and forgiveness
CHENG-HUNG JEN29 December 2010
I haven't seen such a touching gay movie since Brokeback Mountain. The movie contains so many issues, yet it could still cover them all and touch the deepest emotions in my heart. The depiction of each character is so profound that you can't help feeling the way they experienced.

Everyone is selfish when it comes to love, and so was Miguel. After he found the way how his wife and Santiago could coexist, he decided not to salvage the body and let Santiago rest in peace. He wanted Santiago to exist just for him, without the risk their relationship to be discovered. But not soon after the rumor of the painting ran wild in the village, his ideal pattern of coexistence vanished! In substitution, here comes the suspicion along with the despite from the so-called innocent village. Miguel's wife is just an ordinary woman who couldn't accept the fact that her husband was screwing other man, but the courage and tolerance she maintained is quite extraordinary. Love is the only way to get through this kind of grief. It's true for Miguel for that the loss of his lover and the courage to admit the rumor. On the other hand, it's also true for Miguel's wife who had to raise her child under this circumstance, not to mention the pressure and gossip she had to put up with.

Masculinity is always a main concept in gay movies. Therefore, Miguel had to struggle with his identification like most conservative gay did. In some way, Santiago is not just his lover, but also the desire of freedom which he had been longed for decades. When Miguel made up his mind to fulfill Santiago's last wish no matter what it costs, the determination and courage he showed really made me weep. No doubt that's the moment he found his own freedom and became a true macho!

Tragedy is when love no longer existed, so I would rather say this movie is about love and forgiveness. For those who has been struggled for their identification, this is a must see movie. Furthermore, for those who be the reason some have to struggle for anything, this is definitely a movie you can' t miss!
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A moving story about the complexities of human relationships, set in a small Peruvian fishing village
davidgarnes4 June 2010
This movie gathers impetus as it goes along, so that by the end you are completely caught up in its complex and very moving depiction of the twists and turns of the human heart. The story exists on several levels--love story; political/religious commentary; ghost story. Filmed in a seaside village in Peru, the movie has beautiful cinematography, and the music soundtrack is also evocative of a culture far removed from city life. The three principal actors are superb, especially Cristian Mercado as the tormented husband/lover. The supporting players are also outstanding, each contributing to the overall depiction of the townspeople observing the drama that unfolds. I won't give the plot away except to say that it exists on more than one level of reality. Highly recommended.
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Undertow: Undeservedly Under The Radar
rroberto1827 November 2010
In early 2010, the first Peruvian film ever nominated for a Foreign Language Film Oscar -- "Milk Of Sorrow" (2009) -- got a U.S. 2-screen release that grossed all of 10K. Clearly UNDERTOW has no Peruvian coattails to ride in on. Despite Sundance kudos and buzz, it's already being ghettoized as a gay film. Yet it clearly is so much more. UNDERTOW doubly violates that genre's political correctness: the lead is both closeted and heroic while the captivating tale constantly eschews white/urbane predictability. We watch two more curve balls being thrown at us as well: next-world fantasy and 3rd world folklore. So this is definitely not "'Brokeback Mountain' meets 'Ghost'" as several critics have written it off in facile reviewer shorthand. But UNDERTOW may well have the power to connect with portions of the mainstream audiences for both of those films -- via word of mouth, curiosity-building press and guerrilla marketing. Our unexpected attraction to a real-life subsistence-poor fishing village and its close-knit, tradition-bound "primitive" citizens are seamlessly woven into the film's cast as well as fabric. Breath-taking cinematography, a script illuminating characters rather than telescoping plot, understated yet powerful performances and a hypnotic world music soundtrack take UNDERTOW far beyond the shorelines of dry-docked movie-making. Many high-concept films have dealt with men forced to choose between family and lovers. Others have pitted unlikely heroes against the mores of society. Nor is a quest to carry out the final wishes of the dearly departed at all innovative. But UNDERTOW combines these themes in a way no writer- director has done before. First-timer Javier Fuentes-León does so with fearless honesty and sublime-on-a-shoestring craft. No surprise then that it's this year's Foreign Language entry from Peru.
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A must see!
penncare31 July 2010
This movie was simply awesome! I ended up seeing it twice at QFest (which is the LGBT film festival in Philadelphia). The movie was done by a first time director. It blew my mind away and I was crying at how touching it was. The performances were top notch by some very high caliber actors/actresses. The director really recruited some amazing people as one was Peruvian, another Colombian and I think another lead was Mexican. You can read others' reviews for a summary of the movie. I will simply say go see this as soon as you can. It won an award at Sundance as well as two awards at QFest. When this film was announced as a nominee, there was some major clapping. There are very few movies I will give a 10 out of 10 to but it ranks up there with movies like Shelter, Bear City and the Diaries of Anne Lister. This movie is worth paying full price because the entire movie from beginning to end is incredible. Wow! I know my praise of this movie sounds like I am part of the PR machine for this movie and I am trying to hype it up but if you read my past reviews, you know the types of movies I like and don't like. I really, really liked this movie and I think you will too! Enjoy.
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Poetic and passionate - A broke-back seafront
Salvo Ciccia2 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie in a small festival in Bologna (Italy) last Saturday, never heard about it before so it happened to be a magnificent surprise. The movie is set in a seafront village in Peru, where a fisherman, Miguel (aka Mico) living with his pregnant wife, but in love with a city born painter-photographer, Santiago (Tiago).

Santiago kills himself drowning in the ocean, and returns as a ghost whom only Miguel can see. The film's better invention is the realisation that, for Miguel, having an invisible lover is a comfortable situation. He can finally living his relationship with Tiago without hiding himself, despite living in a small deeply catholic community where homosexuality is condemned as sin.

But unfortunately this situation doesn't last very long, and Miguel will face the hostility of his village revealing his relationship with Santiago and giving him a proper funeral ceremony.

The lead actors performances are astonishing and the small Peruvian village set is something you wouldn't easily forget.

Highly recommended.
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We take care of his body that God may take care of his soul
showtrmp22 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Unforgettable, moody, and original (in a genre that has been flunking at the last of those adjectives), this Peruvian offering is both sensual and deeply moving, often at the same time. It takes a gimmicky premise and makes that premise seem the most natural way to tell this particular story.

An ordinary fisherman in a Peruvian village (which gets most of its living from the sea) is contentedly married to a lovely woman and expecting his first child (the first shot of the movie is of him resting his head on the mother's stomach, trying to hear the baby's heartbeat). He has the usual gaggle of slightly overcompensating macho friends with whom he likes to hang out, drink, and play soccer. He also has a male lover, a painter/photographer from the mainland who never seems part of any group and who is subjected to the usual provincial cold shoulder. The painter is a sophisticated modern artist plunked down in a primitive world. After a quarrel with the fisherman, the painter drowns, but his spirit cannot truly die; he hangs around, visible only to the fisherman, trapped between worlds until his body can be found and subjected to the burial rites he scorned when he was alive.

As Miguel the fisherman, Cristian Mercado is just right; although he has a taut physique from working, his looks are a little goofy and off enough to make his terror at not seeming "manly" credible. And Manolo Cardona as Santiago the painter has the kind of face cameras pray for, with piercing blue eyes that could haunt any man (or woman) forever. Santiago is something of a wraith even before he dies; he drifts about the fringes of society, snapping pictures and making periodic awkward overtures to the locals (such as offering to buy drinks after a funeral) which are self-righteously rebuffed. He's only fully alive when with his lover; it's as if a dam broke inside him. And Tatiana Astengo is so sensually easy and playful as the pregnant wife that the moments when she snaps and gives orders are unexpected and tonic. (Her husband swears on Miguelito--the newborn baby--that he isn't homosexual, her response--"Don't ever swear on him. Ever. Do you understand me?" leaves absolutely no doubt about it.) Director Javier Fuentes-Leon wanders around this little town, letting us in on all the nooks and corners, and paints a full picture of a society several decades behind our own in its thinking. There's a gay joke told by Miguel's friends in a bar which was cut and is on the DVD extras; I wish it had been retained, because it sums up the movie's theme--that these men can understand a man sexually desiring another man in an "emergency", but the thought of true love--i.e., tenderness--between men is obscene to them. Santiago's death is initially rather a break for Miguel--he can be with his invisible lover and still live up to his "duty" as a husband and father. Yet Santiago, who was a dirty secret before, is an even more powerless one now, and he has to bear the additional indignity of hearing himself scorned and denied by Miguel. It's hard to imagine a more perfect metaphor for the closet. The story comes to an emotionally satisfying resolution which also seems like a new beginning--one where the possible outcomes are as limitless as the sea.
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Great Film to watch ever
Warning: Spoilers
I love to watch this film over and over, in fact this is my 4th times watching it. Drama and sentimental and I admit it, I cried.

In real life. Some homosexual love affair there is always hindrance especially if one is gotta married but they are still in love each other. He who got married has to accept his real feelings, however, denies the truth in front of his wife and friends...but at the secret remain secret and he has to face the reality once and for all.

What more I could say? I salute to those actors and actress. They performed their roles quite splendidly.

I recommended it already to all my friends for them to watch and they are asking for Part 2, if any.

Congratulation for the great film. I hope there is Part 2 on this!
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A moving gem of a film
jjnxn-112 May 2013
Beautifully wrought story of a man coming to grips with his true self. Exquisite performances with Cristian Mercado absolutely riveting in the lead. This isn't a film that provides easy answers or comforting assurances, life in this village is a tough ingrained macho stronghold even though a small glimmer of progression is allowed to shine though near the end. Mercado shows the intense struggle the main character must navigate to not only make peace with a crushing tragedy but learn how to align his moral code with something that could cost him everything he hasn't already lost. Mercado isn't alone in offering a great performance everyone is very fine. Deeply affecting and well worth seeking out.
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A thought provoking gem
briangnosis-537-3863124 November 2012
I seldom watch non English language films as I have dyslexia and subtitles can be challenging. This film was so well constructed and acted that the subtleties of the human condition were expressed without the need for understanding every word. It makes one question so much about convention, preconceptions and identity. The film contains some beautiful cinematic shots as well as unobtrusive music. There is a visual and situational realism that draws one in.

The concept of ritual to deal not only with the needs for closure by the living but also the passage of a soul into rest was well handled . Also well handled are the concept of love and fear of loss and potential selfish reactions as well as the ability of the human to rise above such thoughts and feelings to the benefits of others, even at a cost to oneself.

The story was interesting and unusual. Should be watched by all thinking people.
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Simply beautiful
nug_martin18 September 2011
This my first time ever writing a review on a film. I just have to recommend this movie to everyone. You will feel emotionally moved by this movie. I can't believe I cried so much during the movie. I am a man who does not usually cry. This is one of the best love stories I have ever seen.

Everything about this movie is just so good, especially the acting. The lead actors chosen for the roles really made this story even more special, they have the chemistry. I am sorry, I just don't know what else to write. You just need to see it for yourself.

Please please watch it when you have the chance.
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A Brave New Film
gradyharp4 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Now and then a small quiet film surfaces without ballyhoo or even much press and finds its way before audiences who are deeply moved by a film about which few have even heard. Such is the case for UNDERTOW (CONTRACORRIENTE), a little film from Peru that is not only well written and directed (Javier Fuentes-León) and well acted by a fine and credible group of actors, but one that also deals with story and information that few film dare to touch. The film has won many awards at film festivals on the order of Sundance and GLAAD, but it has failed to make the public take notice in the theaters - probably because it is a Latin American male love story.

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
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Truly a Masterpiece; a Piece of fine Cinematic Perfection; This movie is what the word "Perfect" is all about...
Rinda DiLibda22 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
An extraordinary movie, a one I was fortunate enough to know and see while searching through tens of tasteless movies, this one captivated me from the beginning. Its plot is original and distinctive and it doesn't stop at that point; the acting is truthfully believable, realistic and extremely heartbreaking and the director's (Javier Fuentes Leon) representation of the story which he has written is truly flawless. Contracorrient (Undertow) tells the story of a man's love to another man, a love which never ends by the death of one of them but rather sets their relationship into another level leading the one who always denied his true sexual being to finally accept himself and his love to the one who died. I never found a time in this movie; where a character felt out of context, a dialogue which was not necessary or an acting which was monotonous and dull. Both Manolo Cardona as Santiago and Christian Mercado as Miguel playing the lead characters, enriched the movie with their exceptional performances and their chemistry is undeniable, that it gets you feeling their love and their pain, their yearning to each other that you can feel their love with their smiles, their eye contacts, their love making, their hugs and their words... even when they fight with each other it becomes an expressive way of their frustration of things, of their bond.

Christian Mercado plays Miguel a fisherman who is married and expecting a son; living in a small somehow closed community and having a good reputation either with their participation in the local church's activities or with his clean manners, fishing regularly with relatives and friends to provide food for all of them. We get to know of Santiago also, played by Manolo Cardona as a rich outsider and a painter who gets outcast-ed from everyone around because of his more open lifestyle or the fact that he is simply not one of them. Then we get to know of Miguel having an affair with Santiago, who only stays there not for his paintings as he claimed to everybody but to be close to Miguel. Miguel is deeply in love with Santiago but unlike the latter who is accepting of his self and whom he loves, Miguel finds it difficult to do the same, thus trying his best to keep their relationship hidden. Following a short fight, Santiago goes swimming only to get swept by the powerful currents and dies; a thing Miguel only knows of later when he gets a visit from Santiago in his own home, where he realizes that his wife cannot notice Santiago's presence anymore. It is then established that nobody can see Santiago but Miguel, partially because Miguel keeps thinking of him but more of the fact that Santiago needs a proper burial within the village customs and traditions and hopes Miguel will be the one who would grant him his final wish. The problem is that Santiago's body cannot be found, so Miguel states that he will try to help his dead lover and find his body, thus giving Santiago his final rest. However, when Miguel does indeed find Santiago's body jammed between rocks, he ties it up with a rope and never tells Santiago about it.

A couple of people gets to Santiago's deserted house at night only to find a nude painting of Miguel by Santiago's bed. Then a rumor goes by as quickly and Miguel gets confronted by it which sets him loose claiming he never spoke with that fag. This is a moment which clearly shows Miguel's inner struggle with his own sexuality but the next moment is the more important one, a conversation with Santiago's ghost telling him that he is not man enough to be a fag. Miguel's wife knows of the gossip, which gets her into labor and Miguel's son is born, however shortly after-wards, especially when Miguel discovers that Santiago's body has disappeared again, She would know the truth from Miguel himself and thus leaves him with their baby son for a short while. Miguel asks her to come back, which she does probably for the sake of their newly born son and at the same time Miguel, completely heartbroken tells Santiago how he kept his body hidden only to keep him around in his life, thus having Santiago asking Miguel to forget about him forever, never to call or search for him again.

Miguel relationship with his wife begins to come back to normal even though Miguel does not seem to forget about Santiago. Then Miguel would know that Santiago's body has finally been found, and after a short night stroll with his baby son, Miguel sees a candle Santiago bought earlier to Miguel's wife, lit by Santiago himself on the sands of the beach. Miguel then gets determined to bury Santiago according to the village's tradition and to Santiago's wishes, much to the objection of his wife and even when knowing that Santiago's family will be coming to reclaim his body. Miguel's insistence on the burial led to a permanent breakup with his wife taking their son along with her, especially after confessing that he is still in love with Santiago. Miguel then meets Santiago's mother and sister, sitting in Santiago's room filled with the latter's paintings of Miguel and requesting a burial from his mother. At the final sad and emotional scene, Miguel finally gets to see Santiago's face before carrying his body into the ocean, in front of all of his relatives, neighbors and friends, in which many follows behind including Santiago's mother and sister. Santiago's lifeless body is sent to its final resting place, into the ocean having a final tearful embrace and a kiss from Santiago's ghost, as a final goodbye.
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Quietly Powerful
sergepesic19 May 2013
" Undertow", gut-wrenching and quietly powerful Peruvian movie, brings back the faith in the power of story telling. This forgotten art seems to have passed by most of our contemporary film-makers. Luckily it didn't Javier Funtes-Leon. Small fishing village seemingly locked in time capsule. Grueling work, old-time believes, church on Sundays and communal meal after. Everybody knows everybody, or do they? Small towns, like little tribes, include all members of its community.Up to a point. As long as you play by their traditional rules, you'll be fine. But, just try to step out of the rhythm of the tribal tune, and they turn on you. Of course, this is a movie about a repression of gay people and the horrors they have to endure just because they are different. But, it is so much more. The indictment of empty traditions, false morals and greatest possible cheer for personal courage. This is the life we have, these are the cards we are dealt and play we must.With our head up high and damn the consequences, or hiding and trying to please all but yourself. Doesn't seems such a hard choice to me, or is it?
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Because it made me cry..One of the best movie of my life
Shashank Jain1 December 2014
I was surfing on net last night about best gay movies than i came to this movie.. After watching this movies i cried for almost an hour, because in India its almost same, difficult for people to come out about their sexuality and most of the married Indian males try to search their love in other guys.

The story, the acting and the emotions are so true and you can easily relate you with movie. Simple, small and friendly village, where people understand each other and lives in a unity and the emotions of a gay men, his simplicity and the way he messed up with all the stuff makes it more real. The end part was very touchy and i still found myself crying when i think about it. I know how it feels to say goodbye forever to someone you love more than anything in this world.

This is one of the movie where they have represented gays with a different point of view unlike other movies about only sex, gay parties, sex buddies and making jokes on feminine gays. Its about the true feeling of a guy for someone, though he love his family but he doesn't wanna loose that someone special as well.
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Absolutely amazing
ken-10-18544316 November 2014
Just finished viewing it from a recording I made last night from BBC2 Probably the best film on this subject ever made I cried uncontrollably at the final scene. Sensitive and brilliant directing and acting. It should be compulsory viewing for all sixth form students, homophobes and bigots as it may help reform their views and lead to a more tolerant and understanding society. I speak from the position of one who has suffered three quarters of a century of abuse from such people. Having to live a life in isolation and alone because of the love that dare not say its name. Having to pretend to be something you are not is soul destroying having to hide ones feelings to deny them and suppress them is devastating and was so beautifully portrayed in this most beautiful but extraordinarily apposite and sad film. Thank You.
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What it Takes To Be A Man
derrickluciano22 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I wouldn't miss reviewing this film because it's one of the most engaging gay themed films I've seen. Although a lot of films have depicted repressed characters, gay husbands and gossipy neighbors, this one takes the tragic ghost love story angle. And finally, this is the film which succeeds in showing what it is to be a real man.

Mico and Tiago are lovers but can never be a couple in a conservative seaside village where gossiping is a favorite pastime. Mico initially does not accept who he truly is nor who he truly loves but what follows is his journey to confront himself amidst a very homophobic community. And this he does without any disrespect for his family, religion and tradition.

Most are excellent actors. Feel Mico's anguish when he first realized what happened to Tiago. Sympathize with Mariela as she carries her baby hurriedly out of her house. Or look at Tiago's very expressive eyes...Cinematography is excellent, with beautiful seaside sceneries, sand amid gushing winds, and purple, orange or moonlight skies. Pacing is excellent. There's comedy, there's drama, a bit of suspense and most of all, a loving romance.

Watch this film. It is about true love and honor. The final scene at the boat is truly beautiful and uplifting!
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jotix10010 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The life of a small fishing village in Northern Peru is the setting for this powerful drama which was shown recently on an international cable channel. A love between two men takes center stage in this surprising production which marks the film debut of Javier Fuentes-Leon, the creator of this picture.

As the story begins, we watch Miguel, a local fisherman, kisses his wife Mariela's swollen stomach. Mariela is expecting any moment now. The idyllic moment is interrupted by a neighbor who comes to inform Miguel of a death of a fellow fisherman. As the funeral procession goes through the sea front street toward one of the vessels, we see a photographer taking pictures of the procession. The man is placed on board Miguel's boat and the shrouded body is thrown into the water.

Miguel has been leading a double life, we find out. He has been involved in a torrid love affair with Santiago, the handsome photographer. They hide their passion away from the eyes of the villagers as they cannot even hint about the way they feel about each other. Acting differently would be seen as a horrible sin among the simple folk of the town. The men are clearly in love in spite of Miguel apparently happy home life with Mariela.

There is a big mystery surrounding Santiago's presence in the town, as well as his disappearance, which is not clearly known, but the secret belongs to Miguel, who will never reveal it. That is the case, until a couple from the village decide to hold a tryst in Santiago's abandoned house. There, they discover paintings of a naked Miguel all over the walls. The woman is instrumental in revealing a secret no one in town even suspected, out of spite because Miguel never paid attention to what she really wanted from him.

"Undertow" surprises for the sure way Javier Fuentes-Leon created in this different kind of story. The unusual love between two men from different walks of life against such a background is too much for the simple fisherman of the remote locale. Miguel, who does everything to deny his involvement to Mariela, does the only decent thing he can do when the fate of Santiago is known. The whole situation proves to be too much for Mariela, who decides to leave town with her newly born son, rather than stay behind and being the butt of all the gossip. The film is done with a controlled dignity as Mr. Fuentes-Leon does not sensationalize the situation for shock, or erotic values.

There are first rate performances from the three principals. Cristian Mercado's Miguel is excellent. He is torn between his family and his honor as well as his standing in the community, and his blissful married life with Mariela. Manolo Cardona, a handsome actor, is quite effective as the lover of Miguel. Tatiana Astengo, seen as Mariela, makes also an impression for her approach to the role of the deceived woman who had no clue about what was going on behind her back.

The film is erotically charged because of the heat produced by Mr. Mercado and Mr. Cardona. The cinematographer, Mauricio Vidal captures in vivid colors the picturesque seaside town and its environs in amazing ways to give the film a wonderful texture. Mr. Fuentes-Leon shows he is a talented man whose next work we eagerly await. To his credit the film is exquisitely developed without a hint of bad taste as it is never in one's face to exploit the sex between the lovers.
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Brave picture about being gay in a macho society
clbobman23 November 2011
I loved this movie, perhaps my favorite Peruvian movie with The Teta Asustada. Having lived in Peru five years I can say this was a brave picture to make in a society that is still openly intolerant of homosexuality. I applaud the director and small cast for really coming together to produce something intimate and thoughtful. It is a quiet little film, with moments of great beauty and the cinematography and acting is really first rate. The two lead male actors were brilliant in demanding roles. Sometimes the music was a just little light for me but over all I was really surprised by this picture and it deserves a much wider audience.
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