Director David Gordon Green's critically acclaimed Undertow is a
strange but gripping experience. I don't know any other film quite like
this. We've seen the slow pacing build up tension in the plot before in
films, but it's so much more than that in Undertow it's the pace of a
family's life in the deep backwoods of Georgia and it it patiently lets
us absorb everything. Maybe I was in a sensitive and impressionable
frame of mind when I saw it, because I remember being so shaken and
touched by this fare that its visuals and mood still haunt me.
But this patient, slow pace is the calm before the storm as it comes to an end when the brother of the father of the family comes to visit, newly released from prison. Josh Lucas is this brother, and he captures the shady nature of his character with effortless conviction. His presence is felt in scenes he is not even in. Upon arriving to the family, the film just takes a completely different turn and we follow the two brave kids in the family on the run in the south from their uncle.
This is further emphasized by attention-grabbing frames that freeze whenever intensity builds up. This may seem anti-climactic, but it's extremely effective and it makes the chase sequences very exciting and 1970s-influenced. So it essentially shifts between chase mode and (eerily) quiet South-paced calm in a genius way. If you like your films fast-paced and action-filled however, its brilliance may be lost on you but if you give it time, Undertow will surprise you as it's unpredictable, even in style. This is just how meticulously-crafted it is.
The film is grimy, dense, brooding and realistic and it zooms in on the deep necks of Georgia, featuring some gorgeously striking visuals, making you feel the dirt and heat of the deep south as if you were right there, breathing the murky warm air from the brown rivers. Some say Green's directing style is reminiscent of Terrence Malick (it is very visually-driven) but I don't think so rather it is an insult to the former; Green clearly knows what he's doing and lets nature visuals facilitate the story he tells, while Malick lets the story facilitate his pointless nature visuals.
I loved Undertow more every minute it progressed and am now prepared to give this film a 9 out 10. I also have it firmly stapled in my top 10 films of all time list and that is quite a feat for such a low-key dark horse.
Action / Drama / Thriller
Action / Drama / Thriller
Following the death of his wife Audrey, John Munn moves with his two sons, mid-teen Chris Munn and adolescent Tim Munn, to a pig farm in rural Drees County, Georgia, where they lead a reclusive life. The boys' maternal grandparents no longer visit due to being out of sorts with John. Chris is rebelling against this life in ways where he is regularly picked up by the police. Because of Tim's young age and health issues, Chris is routinely asked by their father to do more than his fair share of work around the farm. Into their lives returns Deel Munn, John's brother who the two boys did not even know existed. John emotionally distanced himself from Deel following Audrey's death and Deel's incarceration, Deel who has just been released from prison. John, however, welcomes his brother in a effort to mend old wounds, and for the boys to get to know one of their few relations. They will all soon learn that Deel has ulterior motives for his visit, those motives emerging largely from those ...
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