Undertow (15)

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The Independent Culture

Javier Fuentes-León's feature debut is both a tender ghost story and an inquiry into South American machismo.

In a Peruvian village, a young fisherman, Miguel (Cristian Mercado), and his wife, Mariela (Tatiana Astengo), are expecting their first child; what nobody suspects is that Miguel is passionately involved with Santiago (Manolo Cardona), a city-born painter who is shunned by the rest of the community – they don't like "fags" round here. A twist halfway through springs the film into the metaphysical, and Miguel's policy of "keeping up appearances", to Santiago's sorrow, seems at last to have paid off.

Fuentes-Leó has another reversal in store, however, and his sensitive investigation of marriage, masculinity and devotion becomes cumulatively very moving. It's also handsomely shot by Mauricio Vidal.