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undertow: take the plunge

Testament that independent film production in Australia is in good hands is evident in Miranda Nation’s audacious feature, UNDERTOW.

Fetus envy and footballers behaving badly are the two pillars in this galvanising drama of guilt and grief, misguided support and suspicion.

Photojournalist Claire suffers a miscarriage while sports agent husband Dan is attending a ribald football club function. Later, Claire suspects Dan of conducting an affair with a teenage girl after spotting them at a low rent motel.

In a bid to discover if there are shenanigans, Claire stalks the girl, Angie, makes contact under the guise of using her as a photographic model, and discovers she is pregnant.

The discovery ramps up Claire’s suspicion of Dan’s infidelity but also creates a bizarre bond between the women, one now deprived of reproduction, the other fertile and fecund and unprepared for pregnancy.

UNDERTOW lives up to its title as beneath the surface rips and currents overpower the lives of these two women particularly Claire, and the men in their lives.

Laura Gordon is quite superb as Claire, feisty but fragile, adrift but seeking to salvage the shipwreck of her desire for motherhood by anchoring herself to Angie.

Olivia Dejonge is captivating as the callow Angie, all surly bravura and faux maturity but still a schoolgirl emotionally out of her depth.

UNDERTOW is set in Geelong and director Nation and cinematographer, Bonnie Elliott, capitalise on the city’s fascinating mix of industrial, coastal and rural landscapes, highlighting the contrasting the coastal township where Claire and Dan live with the degraded industrial landscape of Angie’s world.

Psycho sexual eddies run with the ebb and flow of the heightened emotional tide of UNDERTOW. The risk of drowning, of being swept away in the strong undercurrents of revenge, both factually and figuratively, is palpably present.

UNDERTOW rides the rolling waves of control, chaos, catharsis in a volatile vortex of roiling impulse.

Take the plunge.


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