Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
In our new episode of 'Sleeping Beauty' for Ink & Paint, Daniel looks at its lasting legacy on animation, cinema and art - click to listen now!x
review, Undertow, Undertow, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Olivia Dejonge, Laura Gordon, Josh Helman, Rob Collins, Chris Gibson, Josh Hayes, Christopher Farrell, Martin Blum, Jeff Gobbels, Tim K. Williams, Miranda Nation, Adults Only, Drama, Thriller film rating

UNDERTOW

★★★

DIVING INTO THE DEPTHS OF OBSESSION

MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Jake Watt
9th August 2018

Claire (Laura Gordon, ‘Saw V’), a photojournalist, is married to AFL player and mentor Dan (Rob Collins, TV’s ‘Cleverman’ and ‘The Wrong Girl’), and is grieving the loss of their stillborn child. One day, by chance, she spots Dan at a roadside motel with a teenage girl, Angie (Olivia DeJonge, ‘The Visit’, ‘Better Watch Out’). After digging deeper, Claire finds out that Angie is pregnant and an off-the-rails local footie hero (Josh Helman, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’, ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’) is involved. Slowly, Claire begins to ingratiate herself into Angie’s life.

Written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Miranda Nation in her feature film debut, ‘Undertow’ isn’t really about football culture (although it is a big plot point) - it’s a film about the stark trauma of losing a child, coupled with an increasingly irrational obsession, plus some psychosexual themes (see: everything from Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Black Swan’ to Melanie Laurent’s ‘Breathe’).

'UNDERTOW' TEASER

‘Undertow’ features a lot of nudity, shot in a distinctly non-titillating way. The female form is presented without varnish or soft focus, the camera steadily capturing Claire’s body, post-pregnancy, as well as Angie’s slight form and swollen belly. Claire and Angie may not be engaged in a sexual relationship, but the instant physical and emotional bond between the pair occasionally dips into some very grey areas, all the better to pack on the well-earned emotion and tension.

In Shakespeare, water is symbolic in terms of crossing a rubicon, and of transformation. In a lot of cultures it’s where you go to meet the gods, because they emerge from water. These things played on my mind as I watched ‘Undertow’, in which water is a recurring and potent symbol of life, death, rebirth, and release. Water hedges Claire in as she depressingly photographs decaying marine life on the beach. Water immerses Claire during her most traumatised and obsessive moments. Waves crash onto the shore during a climactic sexual encounter. Water engulfs the characters and the viewers during a drowning scene that becomes almost womb-like. Blood pours out of characters as if they were willing themselves to change states.

Claire and Angie may not be engaged in a sexual relationship, but the instant physical and emotional bond between the pair occasionally dips into some very grey areas, all the better to pack on the well-earned emotion and tension.

Director of photography Bonnie Elliot (the anxiety-inducing ‘These Final Hours’) captures some beautiful shots of Geelong’s factory-dotted skyline, overgrowth of scrubland, pristine coastline and its urban sprawl, with a football field at its centre like a religious monument. A few of the locations are truly inspired, such as the weirdly Las Vegas-like The Sphinx Hotel and the abandoned buildings where Claire photographs Angie, with giant walls covered in graffiti of nude women.

Laura Gordon juggles grief, desperation and an underlying decency as Claire, while Rob Collins embodies the kind of pseudo-nice guy who puts aside his own morality to "help out a mate". Josh Helman, with his furrowed brow and duck-like walk, looks the part of an irresponsible sportsman (even if his role is underwritten), but the standout is Olivia DeJonge. Coarse, sexual, unlikeable, but vulnerable, this is a role unlike any she has played in her career to date.

As a first film, ‘Undertow’ is an impressive debut. It's a thoughtful, well-shot psychological drama that uses the natural beauty of its coastal setting to provide scope for symbolic interpretation and pull viewers down into its dark depths.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: TBA
RUN TIME: 1h 30m
CAST: Olivia Dejonge
Laura Gordon
Josh Helman
Rob Collins
Chris Gibson
Josh Hayes
Christopher Farrell
Martin Blum
Jeff Gobbels
Tim K. Williams
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Miranda Nation
PRODUCERS: Liz Watts
Shield Jayadev
Lyn Norfor
SCORE: Lisa Gerrard
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
Looking for more Melbourne International Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
The Food Club - A taste of the spice of life
TRENDINGWIN THE FOOD CLUBA taste of the spice of life
Pocahontas - 25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
TRENDINGPOCAHONTAS25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
High Ground - Australia's cycle of violence
TRENDINGHIGH GROUNDAustralia's cycle of violence
The Secrets We Keep - They kept a big secret... this movie is mediocre
TRENDINGTHE SECRETS WE KEEPThey kept a big secret... this movie is mediocre
Jungle - A true story told poorly
TRENDINGJUNGLEA true story told poorly
The Violin Player - Sex and strings
TRENDINGTHE VIOLIN PLAYERSex and strings
Summerland - Sweet and sentimental
TRENDINGSUMMERLANDSweet and sentimental
Malila: The Farewell Flower - Contemplating love and loss
TRENDINGMALILA: THE FAREWELL FLOWERContemplating love and loss
Pixie - A violent bunch of eejits
TRENDINGPIXIEA violent bunch of eejits
High School Musical - The start of something new, even 15 years on
TRENDINGHIGH SCHOOL MUSICALThe start of something new, even 15 years on
The Trouble with Being Born - Controversial, unsettling and intelligent science-fiction
TRENDINGTHE TROUBLE WITH BEING BORNControversial, unsettling and intelligent science-fiction
River's Edge - The kids aren't alright
TRENDINGRIVER'S EDGEThe kids aren't alright
Penguin Bloom - An inspiring true Aussie film
TRENDINGPENGUIN BLOOMAn inspiring true Aussie film
The Great Battle - An awesomely entertaining war epic
TRENDINGTHE GREAT BATTLEAn awesomely entertaining war epic
The Painter and the Thief - A strange, joyful examination of an artist and her muse
TRENDINGTHE PAINTER AND THE THIEFA strange, joyful examination of an artist and her muse
Promising Young Woman - Nice guys no more
TRENDINGPROMISING YOUNG WOMANNice guys no more
The Wolf's Call - Suspense, silliness and sonar sweeps
TRENDINGTHE WOLF'S CALLSuspense, silliness and sonar sweeps
Revisiting 'Dark City' 20 years later - The most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
TRENDINGREVISITING 'DARK CITY' 20 YEARS LATERThe most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
The World at War - The landmark documentary series restored in high definition
TRENDINGTHE WORLD AT WARThe landmark documentary series restored in high definition
Ammonite - Francis Lee delivers another beautiful portrait of love and longing
TRENDINGAMMONITEFrancis Lee delivers another beautiful portrait of love and longing
© 2011 - 2021 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us!