Undertow (2004) - Rotten Tomatoes

Undertow (2004)



Critic Consensus: Undertow's gently fantastical elements are balanced by fully realized characters and a story with genuine, steadily accumulating emotional weight.

Undertow Photos

Movie Info

Chris (Jamie Bell of Billy Elliot) is a volatile teen who lives with his father, John (Dermot Mulroney), and his little brother, Tim (Devon Alan). After the death of Chris' mother, his reclusive father moved the family to a shack in backwoods Georgia, where they raise hogs. Tim has an unusual eating disorder. He is constantly making himself sick by eating things like dirt and paint. One day, John's estranged brother, Deel (Josh Lucas), gets out of prison and shows up on the farm. John is less than thrilled to see him, but agrees to let him stay with the family as long as Deel helps him look after his boys. Chris is drawn to his wild-man uncle, but it soon becomes clear that Deel has more on his mind than a family reunion. Greed and years of resentment lead to violence, and Chris finds himself on the run, towing his sickly brother along, with Deel in pursuit. Undertow is writer/director David Gordon Green's third feature film, and features many of the same crew as his previous films, George Washington and All the Real Girls, including cinematographer Tim Orr. Green, who co-wrote the script with Joe Conway, has cited the influence of filmmaker Terrence Malick, who is credited as a producer. Green was also influenced by low-budget regional films of the 1970s (like Macon County Line and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and by Charles Laughton's classic The Night of the Hunter. Undertow was selected by the Film Society of Lincoln Center for inclusion in the 2004 New York Film Festival.

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Jamie Bell
as Chris Munn
Josh Lucas
as Deel Munn
Devon Alan
as Tim Munn
Dermot Mulroney
as John Munn
Pat Healy
as Grant the Mechanic
Bill McKinney
as Grandfather
Terry Loughlin
as Officer Clayton
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News & Interviews for Undertow

Critic Reviews for Undertow

All Critics (121) | Top Critics (43)

A deep-fried piece of Southern Gothic that wears its unpleasantness like a merit badge...

March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

Green's signature pastoral tangents and codeine pacing don't slow down this tale of two boys fleeing their psychotic uncle so much as inappropriately slacken any of the story's suspenseful aspects.

August 16, 2007
Top Critic

A poetic, atmospheric drama that's worth seeing despite Green's struggle to blend character drama with more conventional thrills.

June 25, 2005 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
Top Critic

A front-loaded film, sure, but what a front.

June 21, 2005 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Green's characters often find themselves in raw, unprotected moments, but Undertow also can feel a little too mesmerized by its own junkyard visions.

December 10, 2004 | Rating: C

The film's first half is hypnotically watchable.

December 9, 2004 | Rating: B-

Audience Reviews for Undertow


Looked promising, but ultimately underwhelming. Also, Kristen Stewart is in this for about ten minutes, if that, so don't let that be a deciding factor in watching this! The first few minutes seemed interesting and it had it's moments, including a small appearance by Shiri Appleby, but I just found it did not hold my attention particularly well.

Nicki Marie
Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer

Jamie Bell, Devon Alan, Dermot Mulrony, Josh Lucas, Kristen Stewart "Can I carve my name in your face?" David Gordon Green is surely becoming one of my favorite directors. I have read that they call his directing "Southern Gothic". I like it. His movie's are not predictable. Undertow is set in the South of Georgia, and its a dramatic thriller about two brothers, Chris and Tom, who are on the run from their greedy Uncle Deel after the death of their father. It's really sad. The youngest brother is ill and likes to eat odd things like paint and mudd. On their journey they come in contact with some characters that help them on their way. Really great performances from Devon Alan. He becomes the character, it's like he isn't even trying. Loved that, exspecially for him being so young. Jamie Bell is a favorite of mine. I thought he was amazing. Josh Lucas was really good. Seen a few of his movies lately and I really like his work acting.


Super Reviewer


Heartbreaking yet very fulfilling in accomplishment.

Leigh Ryan
Leigh Ryan

Super Reviewer

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