- Michael (Peter Gallagher) to Rachel (Alison Elliott)
Rolling Stone - 05/18/1995
"...A hypnotic blend of suspense and eroticism....This seductive twisted thriller pulls you right in..."
Sight and Sound - 03/01/1996
"...Several subtle marvels of character acting are achieved....The motor here is undoubtedly the rigorously constructed plot, a maze of crossing paths..."
USA Today - 05/02/1995
"...Peter Gallagher puts a fresh film noir spin on Burt Lancaster's old Criss Cross role in THE UNDERNEATH..." -- 3 1/2 out of 4 stars
Entertainment Weekly - 05/12/1995
"...Gallagher gets deep inside this gambler's rotten, addictive core....[Soderbergh] has made that rare thing, a modern-day noir with feeling." -- Rating: A-
Variety - 03/20/1995
"...Intriguing....[The] plot strands are deftly orchestrated with an eye toward constructing a thematic argument....The visual style is intense..."
New York Times - 04/28/1995
"...Alison Elliott is pitch perfect in conveying the mystery behind her character..."
Los Angeles Times - 04/28/1995
"...Made with polish and assurance, capably acted and intricately constructed..."
With this cerebral remake of the 1949 film noir gem CRISS CROSS, director Steven Soderbergh has renounced melodrama and suspense to instead create an art film with the emotional weight of Greek tragedy. The film weaves three time frames together to tell its story. In the present, Michael Chambers (Peter Gallagher) returns to Austin, Texas, for his mother's wedding. In the past, he flees town to escape an outrageous gambling debt, ditching his girlfriend, Rachel (Alison Elliott), in the process. And in the future, when Rachel's new boyfriend, Tommy (William Fichtner), a dangerous club owner, catches them having an affair, Michael comes up with a plan for Tommy to rob the armored car he drives. Soderbergh handles his material so deftly that the viewer is left to question whether it is fate or personal responsibility that drove the characters to their ends. Cinematographer Elliot Davis shoots each section with a distinct look in order to further distinguish the film's three chapters, giving the film a visual aesthetic that is overtly stylish and moody. As the flighty Michael, Gallagher is an attractive--and surprisingly comical--presence. His interactions with the rest of the cast (most notably, Elliott) are at turns hysterical, dramatic, and suspenseful.
THE UNDERNEATH is an elliptical noir thriller from director Steven Soderbergh. The story follows a charming drifter who returns to his hometown and launches a scheme to pull off an armored car heist and rekindle his passion for his ex-wife, who's engaged to a mob-connected nightclub owner. When the heist goes awry, the double crosses begin to pile up. Soderbergh's picture is an updated version of the 1948 Burt Lancaster film CRISS CROSS, which in turn was based on the novel by Don Tracy.
Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater has a cameo as the doorman at the local club.
Screenwriter Sam Lowry is actually director Steven Soderbergh. Sam Lowry is the name of Jonathan Pryce's character in Terry Gilliam's BRAZIL.
Peter Gallagher also starred in Soderbergh's SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE.
Soderbergh was initially slated to direct QUIZ SHOW instead of THE UNDERNEATH but was bumped from the former project when Robert Redford took over as director. Soderbergh told Film Comment (1/2001), "It was the best thing that ever happened to me because if I had made QUIZ SHOW, the tiny voice that was screaming at me to start over again and shake it up might have been extinguished. Making THE UNDERNEATH took the gag off that child."