#56 in my movie challenge for the year, Undertow, directed by David Gordon Green, was a mixed bag. I was not surprised to learn that Terence Malick, the reclusive director of the masterpieces Badlands and Days of Heaven, was a producer. The film was very Malick-y, with long, often uncomfortable shots of individuals. It was set in a messed-up, rural locale, and very bad things happened to the characters. This was a very physical film, both for the actors and of the locale, which featured prominently. Ultimately, though, I side more with those who call it pretentious than those who claim it is a masterpiece. I found Greene’s camera work distracted but did not add to the story, which was ultimately too unsettling and non-redemptive for all the suffering it detailed. The performances, though, by Jamie Bell, Dermot Mulroney, and Joshua Lucas, were frighteningly powerful.

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