Friday, April 20, 2012
Movie review: The Deep Blue Sea
It's amazing how so much talent can amount to so little.
The Deep Blue Sea should be a more interesting film than it is. It boasts as its leads Rachel Weisz, who has won an Academy Award and starred in numerous other popular movies, and Tom Hiddleston, who last year alone starred in one blockbuster (Thor) and two films nominated for Best Picture Oscars (Midnight in Paris and War Horse). It’s also the first fiction film for acclaimed director Terence Davies since 2000’s The House of Mirth.
Alas, what this group has delivered is muddled and yawn-inducing. Weisz plays Hester, a Englishwoman “sometime around 1950” who finds herself drawn into an affair with Freddie (Hiddleston), a Royal Air Force veteran, at the expense of her marriage to an older man, Sir William Colyer (Simon Russell Beale). But why she does so, and why she seems so gloomy no matter who she’s with, is a complete mystery.
Davies eschews straightforward storytelling in favor of clumsy flashbacks and artsy cinematography. The film jumps back and forth in time in both relationships seemingly at random, forcing the viewer to play catch up unnecessarily. There are several times when it’s difficult to tell whether what we’re watching is the film’s present day or some point in the past until a particular scene is almost over. Davies stays with other scenes long after they’ve served their purpose, showing off camerawork or lighting that might seem impressive to fellow filmmakers, but come off as pretentious quirks to an audience.
But none of that would matter if the story made any sense whatsoever. As shown, it’s difficult to understand why Hester would want to be with either William or Freddie. Except for some fleeting moments, neither one seems to bring her an ounce of happiness. In fact, Hester’s incomprehensible emotions are the movie’s biggest issue. The film never goes so far as to actually say she’s crazy, but she appears to not be in her right mind throughout much of the film.
Even with a lack of a good story, the performances are what save the film from being a total loss. While her character’s motivations are unclear, Weisz certainly sells Hester’s anguish and confusion. Hiddleston makes the most of his role, ably portraying the ups-and-downs of being in a relationship with the maddening Hester. Beale is fine in his limited role, but his character is a bit one-dimensional.
With the kind of talent attached to this film, it shouldn’t have been a big feat to make it worth seeing. But Davies wastes his actor’s skills, and wastes the audience’s time, with The Deep Blue Sea.
For showtimes for The Deep Blue Sea, click here.