The Deep Blue Sea displays a pedigree any film would be proud of: direction by art house fave Terence Davies, based on a play by Terence Rattigan; leads ably performed by Rachel Weisz and (the new Michael Fassbender) Tom Hiddleston, all gorgeously shot and lavishly decorated.
A melodramatic evocation of post-WWII England meets head-on with a steamy adulterous love affair. There are issues of life and death and in a sense that puts TDBS in league with The End of the Affair, also based on a love story from a famous English writer (Graham Greene) and like Deep Blue Sea adopted more than once for the screen. But the issues in Affair are metaphysical while in Deep Blue Sea they concern mundane choices like suicide that leave little in the way of miracles.
The opening shot has Weisz reading from a proposed suicide note and the whole point of the film revolves right up until the end whether she does or doesn’t. It’s Davies’ vision that gives the film a rock solid foundation that dwells on soulful imagery of the period. Another film, for instance, would just establish a group of people singing in a pub before cutting to dialogue, but Davies makes the song itself the scene, lingering on facial reactions between couples and modulating the vocals from the customers to Kay Starr (“Wheel of Fortune”). When there is dialogue it might be snippy but it might also be insightful yet vengeful.
Davies created a similar mood movie in The Long Day Closes, which like Deep Blue Sea evolves the plot by observing the characters frozen in their environment. Davies may be a high tone helmer but his atmosphere luxuriates as does the color scheme. The Deep Blue Sea, opening this weekend at the River Oaks Three, indulges cineastes even while covering mainstream romance.
Just on a side note, the similarly titled Deep Blue Sea was a Renny Harlin film from 1999 where Samuel Jackson gets eaten by a shark at the halfway point.
– Michael Bergeron