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Undertow

155 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

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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

Special Features

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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: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007R4T3K
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,478 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Undertow" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 57 people found the following review helpful By mirasreviews HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Alex Udvary on 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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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on March 4, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant Video
I was impressed with David Gordon Green's minimalist, haunting "George Washington." I was surprised and delighted with his "All The Pretty Girls." So I was interested to see what his third picture, "Undertow," would bring to his oeuvre. But I have to admit, I was nervous as well. Here, he was working with a larger budget and more mainstream actors like Jamie Bell, Dermot Mulroney and Josh Lucas. What I got was a nice surprise--a nasty little family gothic thriller.

It's a bleak and uneventful existance on the Munn farm. John, a widower played by Mulroney, is raising his two boys in a very secluded lifestyle. Oldest son Chris, a prematurely weathered Jamie Bell, handles most of the responsibilities and chores but longs for a different life. He rebels at every opportunity which gets him into trouble with the law as often as not. Younger brother Tim is a sickly and emotionally stunted child. There is talk of a family treasure, told in dreamlike fashion, but no signs of material wealth of any kind.

One day, shady Uncle Deel arrives. Oozing dangerous charm, this ex-con wants to reconnect with his brother, get to know his nephews and get a fresh start. Chris is initially drawn to the stranger, but mistrusts him on many levels too. And as we find out--for good reason. Secrets come out and violence erupts. The boys go on the run, taking hope and charity where they can get it while evading danger. There is a certain menacing "Night of the Hunter" quality to their travels through the country landscape.

I really enjoyed the film. It's unorthodox and has a lazy, southern gothic appeal. I didn't know exactly where the story was going and so was caught up in the journey. There were interesting family dynamics as well as a decent thriller.
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