a film by Javier Fuentes-León
2009 | 100 mins | Peru
›› Undertow - Contracorriente
a captivating romance served with a supernatural twist.
Undertow by Javier Fuentes-León If you’re looking for a gay film with a difference, then this captivating romance served with a supernatural twist is guaranteed to please.

And it all revolves around closeted Miguel; a fisherman living in a close-knit, if impoverished community off the Peruvian coast, one where everybody knows your name and business. Only what the locals are not aware of is Miguel’s relationship with ostracised artist Santiago; an out and proud outsider whose sole reason for enduring the ingrained prejudices of village life, is his love for Miguel, courtesy of a series of clandestine meetings on secluded shores. Yet when a tragic accident takes Santiago’s life, how can Miguel say goodbye to the man he loved, when to do the right thing, would be to reveal his true sexuality to the villagers, to his friends, let alone to his expectant wife?

Undertow by Javier Fuentes-León Written and directed by Javier Fuentes-León, this beautifully shot feature is as life affirming, as it is a stark reminder of the freedom that being true to your sexual self brings. It is a work in which Cristian Mercado is splendid in the role of a husband torn apart by his love for his wife and his desire for another man, a star-crossed lovers scenario that Manolo Cardona as Santiago relishes in, one that thanks to a surreal twist has both men living openly as lovers in a village laden with homophobia, an idealistic bubble that is but set to burst courtesy of an emotional turn from Tatiana Astengo as a woman knowledgeable of local gossip, that she would have preferred not to have heard.

Winner of the Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and complete with scenes of male nudity and overt gay affection that whilst far from explicit, nevertheless rank as a remarkable achievement for Peruvian gay cinema, this touching, if at times bittersweet work in exploring issues of sexual identity, together with the macho Latino image itself, namely what it is to be a man, straight or otherwise, in a community built on religion, superstition and respect is frankly, a pure delight. Simply wonderful.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - bare-arsed cheek. 
Overall - file under ... 4 stars. 

›› Available to buy from Amazon.com.

›› Available to buy from Amazon.co.uk.
UK Cinema Release - 13th August 2010
starring: Cristian Mercado, Manolo Cardona and Tatiana Astengo
Copyright 2010 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #308
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