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The Deep Blue Sea - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
The Deep Blue Sea
Directing: B
Acting: B+
Writing: B
Cinematography: B+
Editing: B

The Deep Blue Sea starts with a suicide attempt. You know, so you know it'll be cheery. Hester Collyer (Rachel Weisz) turns the gas on in her apartment, and lays down to sleep on the floor. And then, accompanied by a rather bombastic score, we see snippets of flashbacks regarding the man she's evidently in love with, Freddie (Tom Hiddleston, probably currently most recognized as the villain in Thor). The whole sequence is plodding, evidently in love with its own artistry, heading squarely in the direction of pretension.

But! Freddie is not Hester's husband. That would be William (Simon Russell Beale), a fairly well off judge who is also rather older than her. But we are given no reason not to like him. Even Hester has no grounds for despising him -- and, indeed, she doesn't. She just doesn't love him. She's in love with Freddie, who, it is established early on, really never takes a relationship with her quite seriously.

And herein is the conflict: unrequited love. This movie could be called Love in the Time of George VI. Freddie can't seem to stop romanticizing his involvement in the war, and appears incapable of truly growing up. The suicide attempt appears to be because Hester is being driven mad by her love for him. She never explicitly says so but she must know her love for him is irrational. But it's the only love she knows, and so she follows it. She leaves her husband for it.

The Deep Blue Sea takes its sweet time in revealing the salient points in the matter, offering a lot of lovely cinematography along the way. Weisz plays Hester's turmoil flawlessly and with understated nuance. There's nothing terribly new being offered here, but there's something oddly absorbing about the proceedings. Much of it can be ascribed to the performances. This in spite of the many scenes in which the actors seem to be posing rather than acting. Seldom are the characters particularly animated, and on the few occasions they are, it's almost a shock.

Although there is plenty of flashback, the movie really takes place over the course of one day. Hester is discovered on the floor in the morning; she is revived. We learn in due course that Freddie had been out for the weekend on a golfing trip. It's only on a fluke, when he reaches into her bathrobe pocket for a cigarette and finds the note she had intended to leave for him, that he even discovers the suicide attempt happened. The lady landlord downstairs tracks down the separated husband out of concern, thereby bringing him back out of the woodwork.

The flashbacks show us how Hester go to this day. The day ends with her life changing in a way that is finally beyond her control. Terence Davies both directed and wrote the script, based on a play by Terence Rattigan, which I had never heard of before the opening credits. Given the time in which the story is set, there are extra levels of tension, with a woman not technically divorced living in an apartment with another man.

It works, for what it is. For anyone interested in watching unhappy mid-century Londoners, this movie delivers.

Rachel Weisz reflects in THE DEEP BLUE SEA.

Overall: B
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