No wonder writer-director Javier Fuentes-León's lyrical, poignant "Undertow" has been chosen as Peru's official entry in the foreign language category at the Academy Awards. Unfolding like a folkloric fable in beautiful Cabo Blanco, in an idyllic fishing community, it quickly casts a seductive, sensual spell. Beautiful Mariela (Tatiana Astengo) and her rugged fisherman husband, Miguel (Cristian Mercado), await the imminent birth of their first child. They are happy and content in this earthly paradise, inhabited by easygoing yet deeply religious people.
Adding greatly to Miguel's happiness is his passionate affair with Santiago ( Manolo Cardona), a worldly painter from the city. The shoreline is edged with isolated coves where the two can make love in absolute privacy. We'll never know how long the two might have been able to carry on their romance in secrecy, if Santiago had not drowned. He reappears to Miguel, not just as ghost but as a living, breathing man who is invisible to all others. Santiago, however, has reappeared to Miguel not to make love but to ask him to locate his body and bury him at sea in accordance with local custom and ritual so that his spirit can rest in peace. To do this, however, would confirm sudden and unexpected rumors of the true nature of their relationship.