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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Undertow (MA) - 95 minutes

AFL and NRL players behaving badly ... getting drunk and disorderly and having their way with young, attractive women. Unfortunately, it has become a recurring and thoroughly distasteful theme.

That is the starting point for a new Australian movie by debut feature film writer and director Miranda Nation. But Undertow is much more than that.

In this case, photojournalist Claire (Laura Gordon) is married to a seemingly sensible Geelong player Dan (Rob Collins).

Pregnant with his child, she loses the baby and struggles to cope thereafter.

His best friend and teammate Brett (Josh Helman) is “a chick magnet”, but he has gotten himself into trouble with a teenager, Angie (Olivia DeJonge), and Dan is trying to help him out.

Problem is Dan hasn’t told his wife about that and when Claire spots Dan with Angie at a seedy motel she suspects the worst.

The story ramps up from there as Claire tries to befriend Angie and her relationship with her husband deteriorates.

It is a subject ripe for cinematic treatment.

In the movie, the lines between reality and fantasy are blurred as Claire suffers nightmares, so we are not 100 per cent sure what actually happened and what she imagines happened.

Some viewers will appreciate the ambiguity more than others.

Suffice to say, the movie is more about the psychological impact on the two women – the wife and the teenager.

Gordon is particularly strong and powerful in the lead role and DeJonge also has a significant impact playing the less sympathetic teenager.

Dan, as realised by Collins, is another compelling character as the stoic Geelong figurehead who has made a mistake.

The cinematography by Bonnie Elliott – including the sweeping vistas and shots of intimacy – is a feature.

The film provides much food for thought about society’s expectations circa 2020, specifically when it comes to our sporting heroes who receive both wanted and unwanted attention from the opposite sex.

It is about basic urges, morality and responsibility and just how easily a situation can spiral out of control and become dire.

Rated MA, Undertow packs punch and scores a 7 out of 10.


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