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Undertow
DVD disk
Apr 27, 2005 By: Quigles
Undertow order
Director:
David Gordon Green

Actors:
Jamie Bell
Josh Lucas
Dermot Mulroney

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Chris (Jamie Bell) and Tim (Devon Alan) are brothers who live with their dad (Dermot Mulroney) in a rural part of Georgia. But daddy has a few secrets the kids donít know about, and when his brother, Deel (Josh Lucas), arrives fresh out of prison, he is harboring quite a bit of resentment. What follows is a series of events involving greed, secrets, revenge, and bloodshed. It isnít before long that the brothers are running for their lives, with Deel hot on their trail.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
This isnít your typical, everyday thriller; this is something far different. Whether that is a good or bad thing you will have to decide for yourself, but for me, itís a bit of both. Director David Gordon Green has his own directing style, and fans of GEORGE WASHINGTON and ALL THE REAL GIRLS will know what Iím talking about. He uses freeze frames, color manipulation, slow motion, and plenty of other cool filmmaking techniques to good effect, but it doesnít always fit narrative-wise. Sure, itís beautiful to look at, plus proves the director has an eye for style, but whatís the point in that if the story isnít engaging. People wanting a solid character drama will be disappointed when the film devolves into an unexciting, clumsy ďon-the-runĒ thriller. Others who are looking forward to a fun chase movie will be annoyed by the slow build-up and bland ďthrillsĒ. The only people who win here are the ones who arenít picky and can enjoy both aspects.

Iím sure there are people out there who find this movie phenomenal, and while I may not be one of them, I can understand why people would think that about it. The acting is outstanding, especially concerning Josh Lucas who certainly succeeded in being about as creepy as the idea of Rosie OíDonnell nude (ba-zing!). Also terrific were the two brothers; Jamie Bell was very believable and standout in his role, and Devon Alan was hilariously weird (ďIím organizing my books by the way they smellĒ). Another interesting aspect of the movie was itís dark and gloomy atmosphere, which the movie relies heavily on, plus felt different since it was mostly set during bright daytime. Enhancing the mood was the music, which sounded similar to that of SIGNS, and also gave the impression that many parts of the film were more exciting than actuality. There are times though when the movie can actually keep up with music, most of which are wince-inducing scenes (including one with a nail going through a foot Ė sounds fun, eh?). With all of the many great filmmaking ideas combined, we get the impression that brilliance is afoot, when really all thatís delivered is a fairly decent flick with some standout acting and cool style.
THE EXTRAS
For a film with a limited release, there are some noteworthy extras to check out.

Audio Commentary (with director David Green and actor Jamie Bell): An excellent track. Not only did I learn tons of behind-the-scenes information, the track was also entertaining to listen to...maybe even more so than the film.

Under the Undertow (27:51 Ė with optional Josh Lucas intro) : A very nice making-of featurette that explores many problems during filming, as well as plenty of other info involving the cast and crew. I found this even cooler since it shows footage of things discussed in the commentary that I was curious about. Watch it!

Deleted Scenes (6:22): Two of them. The first isnít anything special, while the second is a bit more interesting. I wonít spoil it for you, but itís a touching scene if you enjoyed the movie.

Animated Photo Gallery (4:43): BORING! Skip this. Itís nothing more than a slideshow of pictures played over music.

There is also a Theatrical Trailer, and Previews for ďOther MGM ReleasesĒ.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Chances are that this film will either stick with you long after it finishes, or youíll forget about as soon as the credits begin to roll. And then there are some of you who wonít even make it to the credits and will stop it half way through. I was the second one. I liked the directorís style and thought the acting was impressive, but parts of the story lacked for me. Concerning the DVD supplements, there were a few things to check out, so that boosts the movie up to a higher level, but not by much. Still, UNDERTOW deserves at least one viewing, because although it may not be terribly exciting experience, itís at least an interesting one.
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