Friday, 22 November 2013

The Deep Blue Sea (2011)

While I'm not yet back to regular blogging, at least the gap is decreasing. I am still far from peak fitness, but at least I can get up and down the stairs (upright!) and have even ventured outdoors for some short walks. Will wonders never cease? I don't mean to keep going on about my recovery, since I'm meant to be writing about movies, but forgive the odd moan...

When I noticed the above film premiering on a terrestrial channel, I was sure that I had previously seen it somewhere, since it sounded like the same old familiar, depressing British drama of thwarted love that one has seen time and again. But I was wrong -- it really hadn't been on previously and I felt obliged to have a go, since I could recall some positive press reviews. Based on a play by Terence Rattigan and directed by British national treasure Terence Davis, it boasts an A-list lead in the shape of Rachel Weisz. Set in about 1950, it is indeed another variation on the theme of, yes, thwarted love. Weisz's character Hester is married to the much older Simon Russell Beale, a highly respected Judge, when she falls into lust with ex-World War II flying ace Tom Hiddleston.  Note the not too subtle reference to her namesake from "The Scarlet Letter". She leaves her hubby acrimoniously (he swears he'll never grant a divorce) to move into a downmarket boarding house with her feckless lover. The initial non-stop sex soon develops into hopeless devotion on her part and 'he'll never love me as much as I love him' on the other part. When he forgets her birthday while off on a golfing weekend with one of his drinking buddies, she attempts suicide. She survives but the affair doesn't, despite her nagging and pleading which only push him further away from her neediness. When the Judge hears about developments, he forgivingly offers her a lifeline, but she is too obsessed to reconcile with him. In the end Hiddleston leaves for a new life in Brazil, and in an ambiguous ending Hester will either embrace a scary future on her own or contemplate suicide yet again.

There is no denying that Weisz is a fine actress -- she suffers beautifully. However I do wish she would lighten up in the roles she accepts. Perhaps now that she is married to James Bond/Daniel Craig, she will find her sunny side. Russell Beale is also a superb actor, although little seen in films. As for Hiddleston who has become something of a flavour of the month with his villainous Loki in "Avengers Assemble" and the "Thor" franchise, I don't quite see what all of the fuss is about from his role here; he's not even that good-looking for goodness sake to inspire 'the hots'. The film seems to underline the British mantra of keeping a stiff upper lip and is largely devoid of believable heat and passion.

I have never been a particular fan of Davies' normally low-budget movies, from his "Trilogy" in 1983, through "Distant Voices, Still Lives" (1988) and its companion piece "The Long Day Closes" (1992). He went rather more mainstream with "House of Mirth" (2000) -- an extremely mirthless movie. That was followed by a well-received documentary paean to his native Liverpool "Of Time and the City" (2008), which I have no particular desire to see. While the above movie may boast his biggest budget yet, I remain unconverted. One thing that I will give him however is his brilliant use of popular music to underline the feeling of the periods he recreates in his films, a la Dennis Potter without the lip-synching. Oddly enough Hester describes her plight as being between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, but that is not one of the pop songs chosen for the nostaligic sound tract.    
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