Dir. Terence Davies, USA/UK, 98 mins, 2011
Review by Matthew Rodgers
Many will approach this, as I did, with very little knowledge of the stage play origins of the source text or the lauded artistry of Terence Davies. Davies is a filmmaker revered in certain circles despite his minimal output, (what is it with filmmakers named Terence?), but he is largely unknown to a large section of the contemporary audience.
Well, shame on me, because one thing The Deep Blue Sea achieves is to stir up an interest in re-visiting his career to date. If not for the narratives, then for the distinctive way in which Davies appears to construct a film, which is in a way few others do. This is like a shaken jigsaw box of a movie; moments of tender beauty juxtaposed with those that fall flat through over ambitious technique, and all held together by three captivating turns that might have better suited to treading the wooden boards.
Set in the 1950s, it tells the emotionally charged but ultimately slight story of a fraught love-triangle. Hester Collyer (Rachel Weisz) has left her older husband, William (Simon Beale), in order to shack up with her fly-boy lover, Freddie (Tom Hiddlestone). What ensues is a psychologically destructive examination of each of the triumvirates’ reaction to this turn of events; regret, loneliness, passion. All of the ingredients for a classic love story.
And that is exactly what The Deep Blue Sea turns out to be. Not necessarily doused in melodrama in the way that a story like this used to be, but shot with a classic eye that renders the movie with the rich, textured look of a bygone era. It’s a deep visual pool, which immediately drowns the viewer, despite the overriding feeling of sadness, which envelops the story.
The acting is always committed, despite some Mill’s and Boon style plot dynamics and at times extremely stagey dialogue. It’s when the wordplay becomes sparse that you notice how Weisz and Hiddlestone in particular can elicit raw emotions through looks alone, and both are magnetic.
The end result is a little like the adaptation of John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt (2008), in which the superb performances couldn’t shake the overriding feeling that it would have carried much more resonance from the stage.
But this is where Davies excels. In complementing the drama with his considerable visual flair, he demonstrates considerable ambition in transferring it to the medium of cinema, and although this film is never the sum of its parts, it’s still a worthy drama.
The Deep Blue Sea is released on UK DVD & Blu-Ray 2nd April 2012
· RUN TIME: 98 mins approx
· CERT: 12
· CAT NO: (DVD) ART583DVD (BD) ART031BD
· RRP: (DVD) £15.99 (BD) £19.99
· BARCODE: (DVD) 5021866583303 (BD) 5021866031408
· EXTRAS TBC