[Review] – The Deep Blue Sea

20 Apr

Title: The Deep Blue Sea
Year: 2012
Director: Terence Davies
Writer: Terence Davies, based on the play by Terence Rattigan
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, Simon Russell Beale
MPAA Rating: R, a scene of sexuality and nudity
Runtime: 98 min
IMDb Rating: 6.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Metacritic: 82

Terence Davies‘ adaptation of the Terence Rattigan play The Deep Blue Sea is one of the year’s best films, it’s as simple as that.  In it you have the great Rachel Weisz giving a truly impeccable performance as Hester Collyer, a woman who’s in the midst of one of those romantic tragedies that could only exist in the London Mr. Davies presents, set “around 1950”, dyed in those postwar grays and browns, with its buildings and people exuding this kind of aura of pain that works so well in this director’s style.

We meet Hester in the single day during which the whole film transpires, though we’ll get to know quite a bit from her past through flashbacks. Nearly a year ago she left the stability of a marriage to an older High Court Judge, Sir William Collyer played by Simon Russell Beale, and went into her lover’s arms, a handsome and young RAF pilot named Freddie, played by Tom Hiddleston. Her marriage was comfortable, with a nice quality of living but to a man that, while affectionate, lacked the passion she so desired. Her affair on the other hand was with a man who in a way was useless now that the war was over, but it’s far more thrilling, unpredictable, and has a awakened a new side to Hester’s sexuality.

It’s brilliant to watch Hester and the journey she takes in this film. She’s a woman who wants both the stability and the unexpected, who was with a man who didn’t provide passion and left him for one who, while fulfilling in bed, was too much of a stray arrow and quickly starts being neglectful of her; Hester has, in essence, made a real mess out of her life. And to get out of that mess she attempts suicide, a botched attempt but one from which the movie stems, giving us a narrative string from which to tie the flashbacks into her marriage and affair and the aftermath of her attempt at taking her own life. The way Mr. Davies utilizes this technique is fantastic, expertly knowing when to switch timelines and how to use one to inform the other, it’s just brilliantly done.

It really is great how this whole story is told, how this portrait of Hester is approached. Cinematographer Florian Hoffmeister does a great job at making every shot feel like an actual old photograph of war-torn London, and Mr. Davies does a spectacular job at filling those old photograph with lot of life and emotion. That balance to me is great, and the sense of pity we kind of get to feel towards Hester is very much also felt towards the city itself; the city was once, even during the war, a great and important place, and now it’s just full of grayness and without any optimism. Mr. Davies is evidently very much attracted to that setting, to the nostalgia and the costumes and the feel of the city, but he uses his attention to those details to enhance the actual story he’s telling and not detract from it.

No one’s to blame in The Deep Blue Sea, that’s another of its beauties. Sure, William and Freddie had their faults, but so does everyone and it’s not like either of them was downright cruel towards Hester. If anything Hester is the one that should get most of the blame assigned to her; yes, she was torn between two extremes and that’s a romantic tragedy that’s beautifully told in this context, but you could well argue that she was asking for too much, she was expecting more than she could ever get from both these men and from life itself. Yet the way Mr. Davies tells his story you can’t really side against her either, we see her as a desperate soul with a passion and love that can’t seemingly be fully appreciated by anyone around her.

Of course having Rachel Weisz on board to play Hester helps quite a lot. She’s an actress who’s face I love because of how just fill up entire frames, and because of how much she can do in a single shot and do so without saying much at all. Because even though the dialogue here is pretty fantastic and full of dry and sarcastic dialogue, with Mr. Davies himself adapting the play, he also knows when to stop the talking and let the images do the work. Like in a scene where she’s in a London pub with Freddie and he along many of the patrons starting singing along to Jo Stafford‘s version of “You Belong To Me”; everyone knows the lyrics to a song that seems to be uniting people, and yet in Ms. Weisz face, as Hester can’t seem to join in, you see a half smile that says so much. Little moments like that abound in The Deep Blue Sea, and it’s the actors as much as Mr. Davies that should get full credit.

The Deep Blue Sea is, like I said, one of the year’s finest films. The shots it has in it are often amazing, the film is scored by Samuel Barber‘s concerto for violin and orchestra and it has a fantastic effect, and the performances are a thing of beauty, especially Ms. Weisz’s and Mr. Hiddleston, who’s really becoming one of those actors to keep an eye out for. Terence Davies has crafted a really intimate portrait of a desperate woman, and within the constraints such a thing presents us with a great look at a city he loves in one of its most dire times, while remaining true to the source material, just a job well done. Go see The Deep Blue Sea, take people with you to see it, even if you have to lie to them and tell them it’s a shark movie.

Grade: A-


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: