The Underneath

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Michael Chambers (Gallagher), a reformed gambler, follows his losing streak back home to Austin, Texas. Moving in with mom and her new husband Ed (Dooley), Michael finds work driving an armoured car, but he runs straight into trouble when he looks up his ex-wife Rachel (Elliott), now the jealously guarded property of local hood Tommy Dundee (Fichtner). Rachel needs an escape route, and Michael wants her back, but the odds are stacked against a happy ending. Michael is 'not very present tense', we're told, and nor is Soderbergh, who uses colour-coded overlapping time-frames to tease us into the story and filter our responses. A remake of Siodmak's Criss Cross, the film is like a sci-fi noir, emotionally inhibited, sparse and strange in oppressive blues, reds and greens. It could use more humour, and some of the supporting roles are sketchy, but it's a slow-burner and never less than intelligent and engrossing. Gallagher is particularly good as the cocksure anti-hero who can barely see past his own nose, and take note of Fichtner's scary turn in the old Dan Duryea role. A rather remote film on the surface, but eventually it gets right under your skin.

By: TCh

Release details

Duration: 99 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Screenwriter: Sam Lowry, Daniel Fuchs
Cast: Peter Gallagher
Alison Elliott
William Fichtner
Paul Dooley
Joe Don Baker
Shelley Duvall
Elisabeth Shue
Adam Trese
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