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Javier Fuente - León's Undertow (2 stars)

The director's debut never strays far from cliche.

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Javier Fuente - León's Undertow

Talk about having your cake and eating it. Impossibly good looking Peruvian fisherman Miguel (Cristian Mercado) has an adoring pregnant wife (Tatiana Astengo) and a hot male lover in the shape of visiting artist Santiago (Manolo Cardona). It’s all anchovy blanca, buggery and baby buzz until...

Talk about having your cake and eating it. Impossibly good looking Peruvian fisherman Miguel (Cristian Mercado) has an adoring pregnant wife (Tatiana Astengo) and a hot male lover in the shape of visiting artist Santiago (Manolo Cardona). It’s all anchovy blanca, buggery and baby buzz until the small, close (and close minded) coastal community gets wind of Miguel’s secret dalliance. And then Santiago disappears.

Javier Fuentes-León’s debut feature is an infuriating blend of magical realist intent coupled with the more middle class obsessions of new queer cinema – most noticeably schizophrenic sexual desires, the metaphysical and the overcoming of prejudice in small communities (Brokeback Mountain has so much to answer for).

Undertow is like a bad parody of that free love-era staple, the bittersweet love triangle flick, and although writer/director Fuentes-León’s refusal to find simple resolutions for most of the film is to be admired, we are never far from cliché or whimsy. Still nearly everyone in the film is gorgeous and Mauricio Vidal’s cinematography of the beautiful Peruvian coastline is lovely.
GFT, Glasgow & Cameo, Edinburgh, Fri 6 Aug.

Trailer

Undertow (Contracorriente)

  • 2 stars
  • 2009
  • Peru/Colombia/France/Germany
  • 100 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Javier Fuentes-León
  • Written by: Javier Fuentes-León, Julio Rojas
  • Cast: Tatiana Astengo

Peruvian fisherman Miguel (Mercado) manages to balance a pregnant wife (Astengo) and a male lover (Cardona) until it all goes pear-shaped and his bit on the side disappears. Although director Fuentes-León doesn't immediately resort to simple resolutions, disappointingly we are still never far from cliché or whimsy.

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