Undertow | Chicago Reader

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Rated R · 107 minutes

In his first three features—George Washington, All the Real Girls, and Undertow—David Gordon Green brought a poetic sensibility to portraits of working-class southerners in which storytelling generally played second fiddle to character and ambience. This time he's experimenting with a fairy-tale thriller that only superficially resembles the work of Terrence Malick (the film's coproducer) and The Night of the Hunter (two kids flee across the wilderness from a murderous adult), two references frequently cited by critics. To these one might add Huckleberry Finn—but the absence of any clearly defined place or period makes Undertow more fanciful than any of them. Despite a few narrative confusions, I found this 2004 feature to be pure magic.

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