Undertow (2004 film)

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Undertow
Undertow.jpg
Directed by David Gordon Green
Produced by Terrence Malick
Edward R. Pressman
Lisa Muskat
Written by Lingard Jervey
Joe Conway
David Gordon Green
Starring Jamie Bell
Dermot Mulroney
Devon Alan
Shiri Appleby
Josh Lucas
Music by Philip Glass
Cinematography Tim Orr
Edited by Zene Baker
Steven Gonzales
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
October 22, 2004 (2004-10-22)
Running time
108 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $143,597

Undertow is a 2004 thriller film directed by David Gordon Green, starring Jamie Bell, Devon Alan, Dermot Mulroney and Josh Lucas. Taking place in Georgia, the film tells the story of two boys pursued by a murderous uncle.

Undertow is Green's third feature film. Met with a mixed response from critics,[1][2] the film received special recognition for excellence in filmmaking from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures.[3][4] In addition, Jamie Bell and Devon Alan won Young Artist Awards for their roles in the film.[3][5]

Plot[edit]

The protagonist is Chris Munn (Jamie Bell), a troubled and restless teen. His family consists of his younger brother Tim (Devon Alan) and their father John (Dermot Mulroney). They live in an isolated rural house in Georgia.

The story of the film is one of greed and family hatred. It begins when John's brother Deel (Josh Lucas) visits the Munn family, stirring up unease among them. It turns out that Deel wishes to reclaim a hoard of gold coins from John. He eventually finds them hidden behind John's family portrait. John refuses to give them up. In the ensuing struggle, Deel murders him. He tries to kill Chris and Tim too, but they escape him and run away from home. Chris brings the gold coins along with him.

On the run, the boys meet an assortment of fairytale-like characters. Deel pursues them, eventually catching up. Wading into a river, Chris throws away the gold coins into the water. Enraged by their loss, Deel struggles with Chris and tries to drown the boy. In turn, Deel receives a fatal stab wound in the chest.

Rendered unconscious by the struggle, Chris wakes up in hospital. There, he is reunited with Tim and their grandparents, who have found them.

Cast[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received mixed reviews from film critics, whose responses ranged from admiration to derision.[1][2] On Rotten Tomatoes, it currently holds a "rotten" rating of 55% based on 116 reviews.[1] On Metacritic, the film earned a metascore of 63% based on 30 reviews.[2]

Among the critics who gave the film a positive review were Roger Ebert, who praised the film, giving it a full four stars. He wrote of the director, "Green has a visual style that is beautiful without being pretty. We never catch him photographing anything for its scenic or decorative effect." [6] Ebert would later place the film 10th on his list of the best films of 2004.[7] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a favorable review, calling it an "art film posing as a backwoods gothic thriller."[8] Eric Harrison of the Houston Chronicle wrote, "From its opening lines and first enigmatic image, everything about Undertow is both dreamlike and real, artfully elusive and matter-of-fact."[9] James Berardinelli gave it three out of four stars, giving praise to the performances, and writing, "Those going to Undertow expecting a thriller will find the proceedings slow going. However, those who are seduced by the characters and the setting will find that the 105 minutes pass quickly."[10] The Washington Post's Stephen Hunter thought the film conjured up the 1955 thriller The Night of the Hunter, and wrote, "the movie builds slowly to its grinding climax, and the suspense – the standard by which a thriller must primarily be judged – is first-rate."[11]

Awards[edit]

Event Award Winner/Nominee Result
2004 National Board of Review Awards[12] Special Recognition For Excellence In Filmmaking Undertow Won
2004 Deauville American Film Festival[3] Grand Special Prize David Gordon Green Nominated
2005 Young Artist Awards[13] Best Performance in a Feature Film:
Leading Young Actor
Jamie Bell Won
Best Performance in a Feature Film:
Supporting Young Actor
Devon Alan Won
Best Performance in a Feature Film:
Supporting Young Actress
Kristen Stewart Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Undertow at Rotten Tomatoes.
  2. ^ a b c Undertow at Metacritic.
  3. ^ a b c "IMDB: Awards for Undertow (2004)". Retrieved June 2008. 
  4. ^ "The National Board of Review: Awards for 2004". Retrieved June 2008. 
  5. ^ "26th Annual Young Artist Awards". Retrieved June 2008. 
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger (22 October 2004). "Movie Reviews: Undertow (R)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 2008. 
  7. ^ "The Best Films of 2004". rogerebert.com. Retrieved April 20, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Undertow (2004)". Entertainment Weekly. October 20, 2004. Retrieved April 20, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Undertow". chron.com. Retrieved April 22, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Undertow". reelviews.net. Retrieved April 22, 2011. 
  11. ^ Hunter, Stephen (October 29, 2004). "'Undertow': Oh, Brother, It's Quite a Thriller". Washington Post. Retrieved April 22, 2011. 
  12. ^ "The National Board of Review: Awards for 2004". Retrieved June 2008. 
  13. ^ "26th Annual Young Artist Awards". Retrieved June 2008. 

External links[edit]