Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Genre: Romance, Drama
Run Time: 1 hour 38 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, Simon Russell Beale
Written & Directed by Terence Davies (The House of Mirth, The Neon Bible)
The irrationality of love is the main theme of The Deep Blue Sea, a masterfully-crafted film set "sometime in the 1950s" as the film states. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and while The Deep Blue Sea works as sort of a moving painting, it fails as compelling storytelling.
Rachel Weisz gives a vulnerable performance as Hester, a woman married to a British Judge (played by Simon Russell Beale). The movie flashes around, and in one of the earliest flashes we see that Hester has attempted to kill herself. She has found herself caught up in a passionate affair with Freddie (Tom Hiddleston), a Royal Air Force pilot. Freddie excites her and presents a sense of danger. Even though her husband offers her comfort and a great life, it is no surprise that Hester would throw it all away for lust.
The crux of most romances has the woman falling for the rebellious bad boy, and quite frankly I've grown tired of watching women agonize and cry after making poor decisions. The allure of romance is there, but I have a hard time attaching to people who deserve the consequences of their actions.
The problem for Hester is that neither man loves her the way that she needs. The film portrays love as nuanced and fragmented as a kaleidoscope, where turned at the right angle, if for only a moment, things really shine. And even though these moments are fleeting, they are worth the risk.
Based on a play of the same name that was written in the 1950s, The Deep Blue Sea doesn't just take place during this time, it feels like a movie made during that time. Filmmaker Terence Davies keeps things visually interesting with where he places the camera, and uses several long tracking shots throughout the film. Still, you can tell that it was based on a play, as most every scene involves just a few people standing and talking their lines.
In this case, Davies' work distracts from the meat of the story, as you will find yourself noticing the filmmaking more than the characters. Love is a many splendored thing, but in these hands, the The Deep Blue Sea drowns in a sea of self-indulgence. Love, apparently, can also be very boring if not brought to surface.
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