Sunday, December 2, 2012

Film Review: The Deep Blue Sea (Mild Spoilers)

The Deep Blue Sea (2012) Directed by Terence Davies, Screenplay by Terence Davies based on the play by Terence Rattigan.

Hester Collyer (Rachel Weisz) is married to a much older man. She and her scholarly husband Bill (Simon Russell Beale) seem to have an affectionate connection. But frankly, he is a bit of a repressed mama's boy, and Hester is longing for more fun and passion.

She falls in love with Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston), a Royal Air Force pilot. When Hester is unable to obtain a divorce, they attempt to live together as husband and wife, but they seem to be leading each other down a self-destructive path.


There are several things I loved about this movie. First and foremost, it offers magnificent performances by the three lead actors. Weisz and Hiddleston  are wonderful, but the stand out performance, for me, is by Simon Russell Beale. With subtle shifts in his facial expressions, he speaks volumes.


The film explores the wide spectrum of what we call love, from intense, short-lived passion, to possessiveness, to true commitment. My favorite line in the film, by a minor character, expressed her experience with long-term commitment: "You know what real love is? It's wiping someone's ass, or changing the sheets when they've wet themselves, and letting 'em keep their dignity so you can both go on."

I loved the ambiguity in the relationships between Rachel and each of the two men in her life. At various points in the movie, I thought I'd figured out what made these relationships tick. However, the dynamics kept subtly shifting, and the film kept me guessing.

There were also a few things I didn't like about the film. It seemed to be shot somewhat in the style of a stage production, which is where it got its original inspiration. At times I felt like I was looking at a dingy onstage set. Furthermore the music seemed loud and overly dramatic. I found these elements distracting. Instead of drawing me into the film, as music and cinematography should do, it jarred me out of my suspension of disbelief.


Overall, what would otherwise be a just a decent film is elevated by tremendous performances by the three leads. This is probably the best role in which I've ever seen Rachel Weisz, even better than The Constant Gardener, and I am now a fan of Beale and Hiddleston. I also recommend this movie for its nuanced look at two painful but often tender relationships.

4/5 Stars

12 comments:

  1. Good review. The performances, for me, were the main reasons to see this flick as the story didn't have all that much of a spark or fire that really kept it going. Still, Weisz is great and beautiful as always.

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    1. Thanks, Dan. I see where you're coming from -- this definitely isn't a plot-driven movie. And I agree that the quality of the performances is the main thing that makes this film worthwhile.

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  2. That's a good quote you picked out, and I agree about the performances. It's a mature look at love and relationships, but for me, the pain these characters were feeling was a bit rushed, so I thought it needed to be longer. I liked the film, didn't quite love it. Blogger the velvet cafe praised The Deep Blue Sea I remember, you can read her review here: http://thevelvetcafe.wordpress.com/category/the-deep-blue-sea/

    ps If you like Hiddleston, you should check out the two underrated British films he did with director Joanna Hogg, they are worth tracking down. Unrelated (2007), & Archipelago (2010)

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    1. Thanks, Chris. I didn't quite love this film either. But I did like it a lot. I'll check out Unrelated and Archipelago.

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  3. Good review! I agree with yo on Simon Russell Beale. He is a very underrated actor. Strangely, I didn't notice that the sets looked 'stagey'. I think in the movie, although William seemed at first to be boring and emotionally weak, he proved to be stronger than Freddie while dealing with Hester's depression without condemning her or taunting her for her alleged weakness. In the end, he was the one who wanted to be with her no matter what. But yes, the love of his life was really his mother!

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  4. Woo hoo! Completely agree on Simon Russell Beale. He stole that film. Weisz is great as well, but I wasn't as taken with Hiddleston's performance. Though I'm not as enthusiastic on the overall film, I love Weisz's and Beale's work.

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    1. I'm glad you appreciated Beale's performance as much as Sarah and I did. It's interesting that we had a different opinion about Hiddleston's performance -- I can see where you're coming from. Just curious ... why didn't you like the film overall?

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    2. Well, I don't dislike it. I'd give it 3/5. For me, it felt like I was just thrown in with these characters, and expected to care about them from the get-go. Weisz's and Beale's work saved the film for me. Of course, I also loved the long Underground shot too. So, there's enough for me to give it a positive review, but I thought it could've been so much better.

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    3. That makes sense. The story started in medias res, with Hester's suicide attempt, without really giving us a chance to get to know the characters.

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  5. Great review, I quite liked this film. Weisz was, indeed, amazing, and I loved the character and relationship study that the script offered!

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    1. Thanks, Diana! It was a great character and relationship study, wasn't it?

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