The Underneath Movie Review

Movie Review by Anthony Leong © Copyright 1997

One significant point of difference between Canadian film distributors (such as Alliance and Malofilm) and the 'Big Six' studio-based distributors (Paramount, 20th Century Fox, etc.) is the willingness to support the more upscale/intellectual film. Though the big studios have improved considerably in the past couple of years to cash in on the growing popularity of such films, they still make a blunder once in a while.

One example of this is "The Underneath", director Steven Soderbergh's latest creation (he directed "Sex, Lies and Videotape". It was dumped into theatres without any marketing support and unceremoniously yanked a week later. A film like "The Underneath" relies on word-of-mouth promotion to grow the audience, something that takes time to develop. Canadian distributors have an intrinsic understanding of this phenomenon, allowing a film to 'find its legs'.

"The Underneath" has been on video a while. At first glance, it is a bank heist movie, and you might say, "great, another non-linear-Reservoir-Dogs-Killing-Zoe-derivative-bullets-and-mayhem-movie". However, unlike "Reservoir Dogs", this film has its roots firmly in film noir (it is actually based on the 1948 film "Criss Cross"). It stars Peter Gallagher (the guy who was sleeping in "While You Were Sleeping") as Michael Chambers, who has just returned to his hometown to attend his mother's wedding. He gets a job working for an armoured car company and makes the acquaintance of a woman working in a bank. As the non-linear narrative develops, the audience learns why he left town in the first place and why both his family and ex-wife aren't too happy to see him. Of course, the movie ends up with a series of double-crosses and deaths-- it wouldn't be a heist movie without them.

It is a well-directed piece, which builds nicely to the final act. A cool movie. Give it the chance that MCA/Universal wouldn't.

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