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Monday, April 16, 2012

The Deep Blue Sea Review

The Deep Blue Sea Review
2012, 98 minutes
Rated R for a scene of sexuality and nudity

The Deep Blue Sea is the new film adapted from Terence Rattigan's play starring Rachel Weisz and directed by acclaimed director Terence Davies.  It is set "around 1950" in London and follows Hester (Weisz), a woman who cheats on her older, caring husband with a passionate, but cold navy officer, Freddie.  Hester is a woman who cannot find the perfect.  Each man represents one half of the perfect man.  Her husband represents the caring side of a man that the fragile Hester needs, and Freddie represents the passion and carnal part of the man that Hester needs.  But, because Hester is torn between the men, she cannot decide where to go and falls into a depression.  

This film succeeds on so many levels, the main being the atmosphere.  Most films cannot ride on their atmosphere, but in this film, it is the driving force.  Davies uses a very old-fashioned manner of camerawork for this film to evoke the period.  The opening shot is of a building and the light outside shining bright.  The camera then swoops up the building showing the first floor, then up a bit more to Hester staring out the window.  It looks like a classic 1940s or '50s melodrama.  Each shot has a nostalgic and cozy, but cold haze over it showing a city shrouded in tragedy.  The set design is meticulous and detailed, but is nothing extravagant.  And that is the genius of it.  Simple, but beautiful.  The camerawork complements the sets and together they, unlike Hester's lovers, form one gorgeous whole.  The opening 10 minutes are comprised of a series of mysterious and haunting flashbacks over classical music.  What follows is a non-linear story about Hester and her problems with her men.

Rachel Weisz is great, as always, in this film.  After a breakout Oscar-winning performance in The Constant Gardener and a powerhouse performance in the disturbing The Whistleblower, she has done it again.  Instead of forceful power, she plays Hester as a broken soul, divided between two men.  She is luminous, and even though her Hester is fragile, she still has a sharp punch in her.  A common theme with all of the characters in the movie is that they are all stuck in their wartime selves or .  Hester's lover, Freddie, is stuck in naval officer mode.  When the war ends, he loses his purpose for life and doesn't know what to do with himself.  Hester had purpose when she was with her husband, William.  In the most haunting scene of the film, Hester stands in William's arms, looking comforted, in the London subway.  Many others are down with them due to an air raid and to reduce tensions and pass time, everyone is singing "Molly Malone."  Davies' camera pans across the scene in the subway.

This film, I thought, showed war's effect on a city.  Everyone was in a sort of dreamlike state and after the war was over, no one recovered.  Davies made this a wonderfully uncompromising romance, but with his uncompromising style comes some risks.  While Davies almost completely succeeds, the movie's glacial pace is sometimes too glacial.  But, maybe that is what Davies is trying to accomplish.  Maybe he is trying to show how life barely moves in a war-ravashed city.

Overall, The Deep Blue Sea is a very good film with Davies' distinct style and his obvious passion for cinema.  Unless you love art films, do not see this film.  This will definitely be one that I would love to revisit in the future.

-Joshua Handler

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