Directed by Javier Fuentes León
Peru & Columbia, 2009
Cornerhouse, 8 August 2010
Not just a ‘gay film’, nah, not on your nelly.
Rather, this beautiful film is about, well, lots of things really: sexuality, ethical conflict, hypocrisy, courage, responsibility (and responsibilities that vie against each other) and above all the frightened and feral creature that is the human heart.
The underlying premise is taken from Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), the TV show that has apparently acquired a cult status in Latin America, but what is terrific about Undertow is that all the characters are fully rounded people. And they all pretty much come good in the end, even the gossiping maiden who had conspired to land Miguel (Cristian Mercado) in deep water. She, bless her, walks alongside Santiago’s shrouded corpse at the end.
There are some fine lighter moments too, as when Miguel’s wife Mariela (Tatiana Astengo) turns the TV over to the football. Her fears that Miguel might be developing a crush on the male lead in a popular soap are thus for the moment allayed. It is best to apply a policy of prophylaxis in such situations.
Undertow is an intelligent, moving film and the abundant facial hair on show will surely gladden the heart of the author of On Growing and Grooming a Beard: Some Issues around Sustainable Development. This is the second great film to come out of Peru within a year (The Milk of Sorrow being the other one), so if the ‘buses’ model applies to films we should be due another one shortly.