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The Deep Blue Sea

Posted by martinteller on September 22, 2012

Hester Collier (Rachel Weisz) is married to an older man, the judge Sir William (Simon Russell Beale).  Their marriage has grown stale, but Hester finds passion in Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston), a young man stuck in the glory of the war.  When Sir William learns of the affair, he kicks her to the curb, and Hester tries to make her one-sided relationship with Freddie work.

Expectations are a bitch.  I admit it’s entirely possible I’d have loved this movie more if I hadn’t known it was directed by Terence Davies.  I knew from the start not to expect another bittersweet nostalgia trip along the lines of The Long Day Closes or Distant Voices, Still Lives, but I couldn’t help desiring it anyway.  As much as I want directors to stretch and grow in theory, sometimes I prefer them to remain in the milieu that made me fall in love with them.

All of which is not to say I didn’t like The Deep Blue Sea.  I was able to put aside my hopes and accept the film on its own terms.  It is based on a play written by Terence Rattigan, author of my favorite Asquith film, The Browning Version.  Davies makes it his own, introducing his usual fragmented timeline and use of song.  Both of which are best exemplified in the movie’s most stunning sequence, a flashback to a bomb shelter in a London subway station, as a man wistfully sings “Molly Malone” and the gathered citizens — including the Colliers — join in on the chorus.  The cinematography is also as gorgeous as one expects from Davies, with long pans and hazy, natural light.

Weisz does a wonderful job bringing Hester’s troubled character to life.  Her face is lined with sorrow and longing, doubt and regret and shame.  I also really liked Beale, who makes Sir William much more than just a stuffy bore, he’s a character whose hurt is felt beneath his protected exterior.  Hiddleton is a bit more uneven… at times he rises to the occasion, but in the more melodramatic scenes he seems to be reaching too far.  But perhaps that suits Freddie’s childish personality, prone to sulking and tantrums.

Interesting to note that both Davies and Rattigan are homosexuals working with a story about heterosexual relationships.  It is quite easy to imagine the tale with some gender juggling, although the landlady would be far less accommodating in 1950.  The scandal of the situation is an important element to the narrative.  Rating: Very Good (83)

IMDb
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3 Responses to “The Deep Blue Sea”

  1. JamDenTel said

    Currently my pick for the best film of the year. Not that I don’t think it’s a great film, but that may say more about the year than the film.

  2. JamDenTel said

    Since it was Hungary’s submission for the 2011 Oscars, I’ll say it’s a 2011 film.

    And damn, do I want to see it.

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