Movies: Undertow * * * *
(15A, Limited Release)
Undertow opens with fisherman Miguel tenderly addressing the swollen belly of his pregnant wife and, shortly after, performing the rites at his cousin's funeral.
This is how life has always been lived in Miguel's tiny seaside village in Peru; simply and in tandem with the cycle of natural human events from birth to death.
Into this deeply religious community comes painter Santiago. Openly gay, he is tolerated but not accepted, and his presence threatens to put Miguel's future with wife Mariela and their unborn child at risk. When the highly unusual love triangle which develops takes a tragic turn, Miguel is left to struggle with an almost impossible decision.
Part love story, part ghostly tale, Undertow is a beautiful, intriguing film. There are no easy answers to the questions posed by Miguel's dilemma about fate, loyalty, love and about what truly makes a good man.
It is director Javier Fuentes-Leon's first feature film and won the World Cinema Audience Award at this year's Sundance Festival. It is easy to see why. Visually stunning, it uses the beauty of the Peruvian coast to reflect Miguel's anguish. The lead actors -- Cristian Mercado, Tatiana Astengo and Manolo Cardona -- have a great on-camera chemistry, and this is a moving meditation on sexuality, freedom and the delicate balance of human happiness.