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The Underneath Blu-ray Review

“The Underneath” is an underrated Steven Soderbergh film.

Based on the novel and the film adaptation “Criss Cross,” “The Underneath” is a 1995 neo-noir adaptation. In this take, the story revolves around a screw-up named Michael who returns home for his mother’s wedding after leaving his hometown, his lover (Rachel) and his family behind previously. Michael attempts to turn his life around by taking on a job for an armored transport company. Alas, he can’t seem to escape his past as he falls for Rachel all over again (who is now seeing a dangerous man named Tommy). He also concocts an inside job robbery so that he can run off with Rachel. WIll anything go according to plan or will everything blow up in his face again?

Director Steven Soderbergh has taken shots at “The Underneath” in the past but I think he’s being way too harsh on it. Not only is nowhere near the bottom tier of his filmography, but it’s also an engaging neo-noir tale that is stylishly directed by Soderbergh. His shot selection, film noir homages, and use of color really stands out here. You can see his talent as a cinematic storyteller fully on display here just before his career would soon skyrocket. 

As for the script by Daniel Fuchs and Sam Lowry, it’s a solid Texas neo-noir update of “Criss Cross” that is full of twists and turns, shady characters, high stakes, gambles, and some seriously bad decisions. Do I think more could have been done with Michael’s brother and Michael’s switch to decide to set-up the robbery? Are the time jumps kind of clunky in spots? Yes, but it doesn’t detract from the movie as a whole.

The cast is absolutely stacked with talent here including Peter Gallagher, Elisabeth Shue, Paul Dooley, Joe Don Baker, Shelley Duvall, William Fichtner, and Alison Elliott. Gallagher is in peak form here as the central character Michael, Fichtner excels as the bad guy Tommy while Alison Elliott really shines as the femme fatale Rachel. It’s a shame she never got the attention she deserves in Hollywood as she is an immensely talented actress.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 2.35:1 1080p. How does it look? Expect a truly stunning transfer of the film. The colors really pop here.

Audio Track: 5.1 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? The 5.1 track does the job.

Extras include trailers for “The Underneath,” “Summer Lovers,” “Link,” and “Thursday” and a commentary by critic/film historian Peter Tonguette.

February 14, 2021 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , ,

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