A brilliant cast, including Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot), Josh Lucas (Sweet Home Alabama) and Dermot Mulroney (About Schmidt), rips into this tense and edgy film from David Gordon Green, the "gifted director" (Roger Ebert) of... more » George Washington and All the Real Girls.Bristling with "mood, atmosphere, and psychological suspense" (The Christian Science Monitor), Undertow is a thriller that "transcends the genre" (New York Post)! The Munn familyfather John (Mulroney) and his sons, Chris (Bell) and Tim (Devon Alan)lives a solitary life on a rural farm in Georgia. But when John's brother Deel (Lucas) arrives, fresh from prison and with a sea of rage and envy simmering beneath his skin, the family's isolated world becomes one marked by violence, greed and murder.« less
Donald W. (Noboss17) from ELMHURST, IL Reviewed on 8/7/2009...
Very interesting movie. Roger Ebert Thumbs Up
2 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.
Sarah F. (Ferdy63) from DALTON, GA Reviewed on 9/21/2008...
The plot was a bit muddy to me at the beginning but it did get better as the movie progressed. Family drama in which the sins of the father are visited on the sons by a crazy uncle who has just shown up after being in jail for a long stretch. The father and his two sons didn't have the greatest relationship going to start with. The wife/mother died and the father fell apart and moved his family to a ramshackle farm in the boonies. Then the uncle shows up and ignites a whole new set of problems.
2 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Down and Dirty, Literally, Rural Gothic Thriller.
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 04/28/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Undertow" weaves together gothic horror and boys' adventure tale into a down and dirty rural thriller. Following the death of his wife, John Munn (Dermot Mulroney) took his 2 sons to "live in the sticks like hermits", shut away from the world. The oldest, Chris (Jamie Bell), is now a teenager who does much of the work on the family's small farm, in spite of trying his father's patience with a string of petty offenses. His younger brother, Tim (Devon Alan), is sickly, downright peculiar, and isn't expected to do his share. One day John's brother Deel (Josh Lucas) shows up for a visit, just out of prison. John and Deel have a bitter past, but John invites Deel to stay on until his new job starts. But Deel's intentions toward his family are less than honorable. When the situation turns violent, the boys are left to fend for themselves.
Director David Gordon Green gives the vague impression that "Undertow" is a true story by claiming at the beginning that the film was made with the cooperation of Drees County law enforcement and the "family of John W. Munn". In fact, screenwriter Joe Conway based "Undertow" on a story told to a runaway hotline which was thought to be a highly embellished version of some underlying truth. From the start, the characters and their actions don't ring as true or credible, but their emotions are real and powerful. If there is enough suspense and menace in a thriller, the question of plausibility falls by the wayside, as it does here. The film places the burden of credibility on its principle cast of 4, and they all come through. John is afraid of the world. Deel thinks it owes him something. Chris is Deel's naive but strong opposing force. Tim becomes increasingly sympathetic as the film progresses. "Undertow"'s corrupted innocence, isolation, and evil bring gothic horror to Hicksville.
The DVD (MGM 2005 release): Bonus features include a making-of documentary, 2 deleted scenes, a theatrical trailer, a photo gallery, and an audio commentary. "Under the Undertow" (30 minutes) is a documentary full of on-set footage and interviews with director, cast, and crew, made by the cast and crew -most notably actor Josh Lucas- during the film's 30-day shoot. "Animated Photo Gallery" (5 minutes) is a slideshow of on-set photos. The audio commentary is by director David Gordon Green and actor Jamie Bell, who is seeing the film for the first time. This is a general commentary about directorial decisions, filming, and Green's and Bell's experiences making the film. Subtitles for the film are available in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Dubbing is available in Spanish and Portuguese."
Short thumbs up
Nellie | New Zealand | 07/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"if you are a fan of night of the hunter or certain films 0f the 1970s this is for you. it can be slow [comparatively to current Hollywood ADD standards] but it is filled with beauty, malice and understanding. Tough kids and heavy swamp, following the river. Hellyeah."
RL Stevenson & Twin Peaks & David Gordon Green = UNDERTOW
Cj D. Vries | CapeTown, RSA | 04/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I read an article a while back, discussing some overlooked movies of the past few years. "Undertow" was one of them, and for some reason I took a chance and ordered it. As I always try not to read too much about a movie beforehand (it's such an irritation when reviewers give away essential elements of the plot), I wasnt quite sure what to expect. I had an uneasy feeling that it might turn out to be a slow moving artsy fartsy movie about Hillbillies. After the first few seconds my trepidations were gone and I was happily lost in the strange, eerie and entertaining world created by Mr Green. He truly is a remarkable talent and because of this movie I have also ordered "George Washington", his first feature film. I was very impressed by the four leads of UNDERTOW, each portraying their characters with gusto and visible dedication. The cameos are wonderfully off beat, and well acted. The commentary track by Green and Jamie Bell provides insightful and amusing facts about the project and is well worth a listen. It's a good story with believable characters and some nailbiting moments! But, because of David Gordon Green's artistic touches, the movie is elevated to more than just a commercial flick. I do hope more people will become aware of UNDERTOW in future as it really deserves more credit and attention."
Well what do we have here?
Mr. Cj Jothi | London, England | 03/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When Roger Ebert is your number one fan devout cinemagoers take notice. I have the utmost respect of David Gordon Green. Whilst George Washington may be the least played DVDs I own it still is a cherished one, because in there lies the key to the most vital taste of reality captured on screen. Whilst not non-linear, his narrative style and pacing certainly will try even the most patient of mainsteam audiences. All The Real Girls was another example of visual poetry, that meandered through scenes, however still entertained. His last two films have relied less on a story and more on characterisation and evoking an atmosphere.
This is where Undertow is different. Green had found a story that allowed the same naturalistic approach, yet one that still needed to be structured. With a bigger budget that afforded three absolutely outstanding performances from Jamie Bell, Josh Lucas and Mulroney, a Philip Glass score that finally doesn't sound the same as his last twenty and a truly riveting story about a father, his two sons, and the mysterious relative that shows up one day, Undertow is indeed one of 2004's lost treasures.
This film underlines Green's talent. From fight sequences to the most delicate, nuanced moments of human fragility and innocence he provides a slice of the human condition that I really cannot find an equal. Three features in four years also shows he is prolific. The comparisons to Malick will remain, but his work represents a unique voice that should not be undermined by such comparisons.
A special mention must be made on the editing. The freeze frames were a particularly effective stylistic trait that ran throughout the film. When Bell throws a stone at a window, the action is repeated four or five times with differing effects laid onto them. Such a simple effect, and one that echoes the film effect created in Clu Gulager's 1969 short film A Day with the Boys.
So what we have here is Green finally trying something more conventional and passing with flying colours. If you haven't seen his previous two films start with this. It is by far the most accessible, and one that will introduce you to a film language that Green has reinvigorated. I look forward to what he decides to take on next."
Strange and well done
sally balinsky | MA | 01/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"a small film but original.The two boy actors were excellent. Not a pretty story but poetic,particulary the ending"