WARNING: I'm about to write great
freaked out things about a Latin American movie that I strongly suggest everyone should watch but in my writing I won't avoid spoilersso... Please, pleasewatch Undertow (Contracorriente in Spanish) it's awesome. If you're not planning on watching it then go ahead
I ended up watching Undertow because it was present in most lists of the best Latin American movies and a small clip I watched beforehand suggested that the movie could be LGBT themed so I went for it without reading summaries or watching full trailers. I'm so moved and shaken and just AFFECTED by it that I have to express myself here.
First of all, we have Miguel, a man dedicated to fishing with his "cool" gang of mates. He is married to Mariela and they are expecting their first child.
At the beginning, Miguel is shown as a dedicated husband and happy future parent, going through the difficult time of "burying" his recently deceased cousin [the custom dictates that the body has to be wrapped up and carried lying over a plank (no coffin, just the body) to the shore, where a ceremony is carried out and then close friends or family use a boat to go deep in the sea and throw the body in the ocean].
Afterwards, while the group of men are having a drink for the deceased cousin, a foreign painter named Santiago gives them two beers to show his condolences. At first the drinks are refused since literally no one likes Santiago because they think he is weird and his manners strongly suggest he is homosexual and people are really judgmental about it. Miguel encourages his friends to accept the drinks to honour his cousin so they settle down again.
Next, we see Miguel going to some kind of ruins or a really bad kept house(?) determined and obviously looking for something. Suddenly, arms surround his waist and someone kisses his neck. Turns out, Miguel and Santiago actually talk to each other because they are LOVERS (SHOCKING, I was spoiled a little but I honestly thought I would see the whole "man lusts after man2 and they fall into bed and start an affair" kind of story) and they saw each other there to talk and stuff.
I loved that you could see the relationship wasn't merely physical, since people tend to make "gay" storylines using only one night stands or the usual friends with benefits thing. They were so fluffy I felt overly emotional.
Next we find out that Miguel and Santiago had been planning to go away on a little holiday, but since Miguel's wife is about to give birth soon and his cousin just died, he cannot leave and Santiago gets upset about it but soon he lets it go.(Kudos to the man, I would've been devastated).
The next time they meet, Santiago gives Miguel a digital camera and he gets angry because since he isn't rich at all he cant explain to his wife how he got a camera so he had ordered Santiago to never give him gifts. Besides, he was also angry because his wife told him that Santiago had bought a candle for her (good fortune when the baby was born) and Miguel was terrified of the two of them meeting each other.
They end up having sex (in the beach xD can you imagine how uncomfortable is that? The weather was hot and windy and damnn) and afterwards when Miguel mentions that Santiago cannot leave the little town because of his paintings and Santiago confesses that he is only there because of Miguel. Miguel calls Santiago "gay", pretending he is sooo straight so they part on bad terms.
Time passes and Miguel misses Santiago like crazy and no one in town had seen him recently. But one day he returns home and sees Santiago waiting for him. Obviously he freaks out but when his wife comes out to greet him, she cannot see Santiago and then he disappears.
Turns out only Miguel can see Santiago and he had some kind of accident by the sea and died (WHY SO TRAGIC DAMNIT I DIDNT NEED THIS) so he needs Miguel's help to recover his body and give him a proper burial. Miguel cries when he knows what happened to Santiago but he agrees to help him.
Then the MOST BEAUTIFUL AND HEARTBREAKING THING EVER. Santiago prompts Miguel to literally come out of hiding and take a walk through town, reassuring him that no one else can see him. Miguel is nervous AF but then he notices they REALLY cant see Santiago and he smiles so openly and they grab hands and ajfkskgkdkgkdk. Men holding hands will always melt my heart, but the fact of they only doing this because Santiago is dead/kinda invisible/a lost soul and they couldn't do it otherwise is so sad.
Miguel and Santiago are more couple-y than ever because they can be together all the time and no one will judge because they cant see (there's this one small scene where Mariela fell asleep on Miguel's shoulders while watching TV and Santiago appears, sits next to Miguel and laces their fingers together twt like SO WRONG BUT AS GOOD AS IT WILL BE WITH THEM OH NO ;-;
One day, Miguel finds Santiago's body but doesn't bring it to the surface because he doesnt want to stop seeing Santiago. Then these beautiful lines:
"Why don't you stay here with me?"
"Really? You don't know how long I've wanted to hear you say that and you're just telling me now?"
"Well, yeah. Before it wasn't possible... But now it is! I thought you were happy!"
"I'm so happy when I'm with you! But when I'm not I just... I have nothing left"
"Hey, I promise-"
"You can't promise me anything!"
"I know I can't, but I want you here with me".
Aaand I cried. Badly. There is this whole sende of hopelessness. How bad is a situation when you can only be with that person when said person has died!? Nonono, horrible.
Then a damn teenage girl goes to fool around with her boyfriend at Santiago's abandoned house. She explores around and discovers several paintings of a naked man that 99% is obviously Miguel. I WAS LIKE FCK NO THIS IS SOO BAD.
Rumors spread out quickly and suddenly all men are wary of Miguel and when he figures out why, he is furious because he told Santiago to neverpaint him. Mariela finds out and confronts him but he says he didnt even talk to the *insert the offensive f word for gay here* so he is safe-ish for the moment.
Miguel goes to their old meeting point and summons Santiago to yell at him about painting him and "now everyone thinks I'm a fwordlike you" and then Santiago, bless his lost soul says this:
"It is obvious you're not gay, you're not like me, because it takes courageto be like me and you're just a coward pretending to be a real man"
(Something to which I completely agree. I've always thought LGBT+ people, out or not, are some of the bravest people I've known)
So they fight, they make up, they have sex again (no idea how they managed that) and they keep on living/existing.
The baby is born, Miguel confesses to Mariela that he was Santiago's lover and she leaves him for a while. Completely confused, Miguel sees Santiago one last time to tell him he can't do this anymore, that he found his body but he can't recover it, and Santiago just asks him to never call his name again (that's how he appeared). They hug (and gosh, their hugs are soo deep and ajgkskkgs that I feel jealous twt) and Santiago disappears.
Miguel moves on with life, kinda. His friends talk to him again and he even has sex once with the wife and he is a really loving father. But then a group of fishers find Santiago's body and pull it out of the water.
When Miguel finds out, he is determined to convince Santiago's relatives (his mother and his sister, who are on the way and planning to bury him in their family graveyard) to bury him in the ocean with the proper celebration and everything. Mariela doesnt agree to this and then Miguel says he still loves Santiago so she leaves for good (although she manages to convince the town priest to officiate the ceremony). At first Santiago's mother confesses that her son told her about Miguel but she pretended not to listen cause she was shocked. Miguel sees all of Santiago's paitings and starts crying because almost all of them had him painted somehow.
Finally the relatives concede and the ceremony is carried out. Some people of the town attend, showing that the town is not completely filled of homophobic people fck!! Miguel goes alone with the body to the ocean and when he throws the body, he sees Santiago one last time, they kiss and Miguel is left alone. End.
But DAMN TWT I CANT DEAL WITH THIS!! I loved that despite the heavy external and internal homophobia, there was love and there was caring, way more than there was lust. The first twist with Santiago being dead caught me off guard and the next twist with everyone knowing of the paintings had me so stressed and worried. I cried like a baby at the credits because of the song that mostly says
But if now you feel at least half of the love I still feel for you. You can swear that I bless whoever loves you. I want you to be happy even if it's not with me.
hOW CAN I NOT BE LIKE THIS!? anyways, loved it, planning on watching it again and convincing my fellow mexican people to watch it too.