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Undertow (2005)

Jamie Bell , Josh Lucas , David Gordon Green  |  R |  DVD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jamie Bell, Josh Lucas, Dermot Mulroney, Devon Alan, Kristen Stewart
  • Directors: David Gordon Green
  • Writers: David Gordon Green, Joe Conway, Lingard Jervey
  • Producers: Alessandro Camon, Edward R. Pressman, John Schmidt, Lisa Muskat
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Dubbed: Portuguese, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: April 26, 2005
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007R4T3K
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,727 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Undertow" on IMDb

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

The dazed, dreamlike world of director David Gordon Green remains intact, although Undertow has more story than his previous gems (All the Real Girls, George Washington). In the hot, green Georgia countryside, a man (Dermot Mulroney) lives with his two sons on a farm; their existence is shattered by the arrival of the man's Faulknerian brother (Josh Lucas), a dangerous sort with an ulterior motive. The movie that follows is like The Night of the Hunter filtered through a Days of Heaven lens--there's even a Heaven-like narration provided by Jamie Bell. That's what you get for having Terrence Malick produce your movie. The plot doesn't always sit comfortably with Green's uncanny style--sometimes it feels like an intrusion on a private world of childhood--and Josh Lucas is "actory" in a way that most Green actors are not. Green is at his best when noticing some stray detail (the younger brother likes to arrange his books according to smell), not when connecting the dots of story. Still, the images will stick in your mind, Tim Orr's cinematography is superb, and Philip Glass provides a suitably mysterioso score. --Robert Horton

Product Description

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 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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Down and Dirty, Literally, Rural Gothic Thriller. April 27, 2005
Format:DVD
"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.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Caught In The "Undertow" June 5, 2005
Format:DVD
John (Dermont Mulroney) has lost his wife and now must rise his two boys, Chris ("Billy Elliot"'s Jamie Bell) and Tim (Devon Alan) by himself. Chris though is a handful already in trouble with the law and dating a girl, Lila (Kristen Stewart, "Catch That Kid") who's father doesn't approve up to the point where he chases the boy with a gun. But what is John to do? Enter Deel (Josh Lucas) John's brother. Deel has just been released from prison and has not seen his brother for some time. In fact he doesn't even recognize his nephews.

At this point in the story I was thinking the movie was going to be about Deel's relationship with his brother and getting to know this family he never knew about. I figured the boys would come to grow on Deel and would treat him like a father. Deel would help the boys get through this difficult time.

But "Undertow" isn't interested in that story. And heaven knows we've seen it before. The movie was directed by David Gordon Green ("George Washington", "All the Real Girls") and soon Green switches gears on us in a very unexpected way. Now the movie turns into almost a fairy tale.

Some of the scenes actually had me on the edge of my seat and created more suspense than most of the thrillers being released. And this movie doesn't even seem that interested in suspense. What "Undertow" seems most interested in is the characters. Every performance here seem flawless. We accept ever character as they are. We imagine that Green perhaps knows these characters. People like this must really exist. Every line of dialogue seems like it could have actually been spoken by real people in these exact situations. The characters are fueled by emotions we can actually relate to. What a relief to see a movie like this.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
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.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well what do we have here? March 24, 2005
Format:DVD
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars ok movie
ok movie
Published 17 days ago by Jennifer Bowden
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay movie
I liked it but this style of movie just didn't do it for me. People behaving badly for all the usual reasons, greed, jealousy, envy, ignorance,..., you know..., the usual. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Leon P.
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
I hate it too
Published 1 month ago by cheryl upton
4.0 out of 5 stars Hey, this is a pretty good movie!!
It is a film worthy of viewing. I wont go into the details of the film as I am sure
a number of reviewers have, except to say its a thrilling movie of life and death. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Robert Pylant
2.0 out of 5 stars product review
I only bought it because a freind of mines lent it to me and the kids lost the DVD from what little I saw of the movie it sucks and is slow I would of never bought the movie on my... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Tyrone P. Thompson
3.0 out of 5 stars Rough around the edges
Could help feeling sorry for the boys. It was interesting and I really like Jamie Bell.
Since Billy Elliot he has grown to be a fine actor.
Published 6 months ago by richard h. moore
4.0 out of 5 stars Great cast and a good movie.
I had never seen Josh in a villain roll ... he did it very well. A complex story, told very well by an excellent cast.
Published 7 months ago by D. DaSilva
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Intense Movie
This is a great watch.The actors are all very good.The story is build up slowly and gripping.What do you want more...
Published 12 months ago by Alien
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern Night Of The Hunter
Some movie fans will understand there is no higher praise for a film than those 4 words. And just as NOTH was utterly slept on at the time, so was Undertow. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Richard Feder
5.0 out of 5 stars heart breaker
You really got to feel for these two boys and all they went through and you cannot help thinking how lucky they were to not get killed.
Published 19 months ago by Dana Carlson
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