Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Revisit: Undertow

A United Artists release 2004

Directed by David Gordon Green

Written by Joe Conway and David Gordon Green

Based on a story by Lingard Jervey

Tragedy besets a broken family when a mysterious uncle returns from prison with more on his mind than a happy reunion.

An unsettling film with a strong Southern voice, Undertow is a fine representation of David Gordon Green's skills as a director. While far from perfect - the script takes a while to get going, stumbles in some information reveals and relies a little heavily on Christ metaphors - Undertow is a captivating mix of melodrama, suspense, and horror. Green really makes the most of the setting, a Southern bayou, letting cinematographer Tim Orr really stretch his camera and get a good feel for the murky, hot, muddy surroundings. Performances from Josh Lucas, Jamie Bell, and Dermot Mulroney are more than passable, elevating the somewhat leaden script to a much scarier place. Ditto for composer Philip Glass's music, which certainly adds to the tension and moves many of the scenes. Under anyone else's supervision, Undertow may have been a sub-par or downright silly affair. But David Gordon Green and his crew make it something more: a sort of modern day Night of the Hunter, fairy-tale-esque and all the more tragic. Worth a watch.

No comments: