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MOVIE REVIEW: Undertow (Contracorriente)

This Peruvian film involves a ghost and a love affair

Cristian Mercado as Miguel and Manolo Cardona as Santiago in ``Undertow.''

Cristian Mercado as Miguel and Manolo Cardona as Santiago in ``Undertow.''

  • Cristian Mercado as Miguel and Manolo Cardona as Santiago in ``Undertow.''
  • (L-R) Manolo Cardona as Santiago and Cristian Mercado as Miguel in ``Undertow."
  • A scene from the film ``Undertow.''
  • A scene from the film ``Undertow.''
  • Cristian Mercado as Miguel and Tatiana Astengo as Mariela in``Undertow.''
  • (L-R) Cristian Mercado as Miguel and Manolo Cardona as Santiago in ``Undertow.''
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Who knew there were gay ghosts? We usually just get movies where a ghost does pottery with Demi Moore, or wants to kill people. This one likes to kick a soccer ball around a picturesque Peruvian beach with his living lover.

It’s not as corny as it sounds. In fact, it’s very touching at times. I often wonder why so many on-screen romances lack something and leave the viewer not caring as much about the characters as we should.

Last year's A Single Man was romantic and worked. Brokeback Mountain didn’t.

This movie does work most of the time, and credit goes to writer/director Javier Fuentes-Leon.

The movie starts with two men keeping their love affair secret. I’m guessing this small, religious town wouldn’t be so understanding. It doesn’t help that one of the guys has a wife that’s pregnant, too.

When the new kid in town dies, many gossip about his sexuality; or at the very least, they found him strange. He took pictures, liked to paint, and one woman claims to have seen him carrying a magazine with nude men in it.

Things seem to be going well when after the guy drowns swimming; his ghost can continue their relationship. The problem is his soul can’t go to the next place without a proper burial.

I enjoyed watching the movie, but at times it reminded me of one of those Mexican soap operas you see when you’re going through the channels and nothing else is on. You leave it there for a few minutes because the Latina on screen is cute, but the ridiculous yelling eventually forces you to move on.

Lots of guys in this picturesque Peruvian town have the macho thing going, and there’s lots of cursing (I don’t think I’ve ever seen the f-word so often in subtitles). They also like their beards (pun intended).

I sometimes wonder if I have a gambling problem when I see a movie in which they go back in time and I want the character to go place a sports bet they already know the outcome of. In this movie, I loved the man using his ghost/lover to cheat at poker.

This movie is like Volver meets A Single Man. It’ll garner some attention for Peru at Oscar time in the foreign picture category.

I’m giving it a D+.