The spirit is willing
This Peruvian ghost story brings washes of welcome maritime sunlight to a somewhat grey domestic summer. Undertow is not always successful – indeed, it is occasionally a tad dubious – but it has a rough-hewn integrity.
Miguel (Cristian Mercado) is a fisherman in a remote, religious community. He is married and looking forward to the birth of his first child. But Miguel has a secret. He has, for quite some time, been carrying on an affair with Santiago (Manolo Cardona), a good-looking painter. When Santiago drowns, his spirit returns to hang mournfully around his lover.
The image of the two men, one invisible to all others, walking through the town is a powerful one. For the first time, Miguel and Santiago enjoy a class of sexual freedom rare in such conservative communities.
The idea is effective, though it cannot altogether obscure the film’s deficiencies. The soundtrack is a little too keen on the sentimental surge. The cyclical structure is far too neat. And it proves hard to sympathise with a protagonist who seems so untroubled by his own adultery.
A persuasive fable, nonetheless.
Between two worlds: Manolo Cardona and Crisian Mercado