REVIEW: The Deep Blue Sea

27 12 2012

There was a moment towards the beginning of Terrence Davies’ “The Deep Blue Sea” where I thought I might be watching a film made beautifully in the style of another Terrence.  That is, Terrence Malick.  The film starts with a 10-minute prologue that is marvelously expressionistic and truly poetic.  The way Davies filmed a love scene, with Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston’s bare bodies intertwining and interlocking as one, is a thing of pure beauty and grace.

But like Lars Von Trier’s “Melancholia,” Davies pulls out all the stops in the opening minutes and leaves us with a mess of a movie to deal with afterwards.  It’s a boring and melodramatic replaying of the scenarios we normally see Reese Witherspoon playing out in movies like “This Means War” and “How Do You Know.”  If that comparison strikes you as a little too extreme, it also bears quite a resemblance to indie favorites of 2012 “Take This Waltz” and “Middle of Nowhere.”

As Hester Collyer, Weisz is a woman torn between duty to her husband, the older Sir William (Simon Russell Beale), and her passion for the younger RAF pilot Freddie Page (Hiddleston).  And over the course of an hour and a half, we see her torn apart by these two competing forces for heart.  I think we were supposed to feel something for her or perhaps have some sympathy for Hester going into this battle royale, but both were nonexistent.

The bulk of “The Deep Blue Sea” takes place in the self-loathing pity party stage of Hester’s indecision, a stage which is totally natural but brutally unwatchable if that’s all we are given to witness.  And Weisz, fantastic as she is, plays her character with so much angst you’d think she studied up on Kristen Stewart to get inspiration for her performance.  All she does is stare wistfully out a window, smoke cigarettes, stand still, and pout.

The two men make desperate pleas for her, and she remains in the corner chanting her own personal requiem.  If “The Deep Blue Sea” is some statement on the helplessness of 1950s women to change their situation, this film adds nothing original to the conversation.  It’s just a moping mess that wallows and ultimately drowns in its own sadness.  D+1star

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