Adapted and Directed by: Terence Davies
Written by: Terence Rattigan (play)
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston and Simon Russell Beale
The wife (Rachel Weisz) of a British Judge (Simon Russell Beale) is caught in a self-destructive love affair with a Royal Air Force pilot (Hiddleston).
The Deep Blue Sea is a tale of infatuation that felt so disjointed that it undermined the potential power of a truly raw and vulnerable performance from leading lady Rachel Weisz. Hester Collyer (Weisz) is in a passionless but comfortable marriage with the caring but whipped Sir William Collyer (Beale) when she stumbles across Freddie Page (Hiddleston) and is utterly drawn to his presence. Weisz delivers sexual vulnerability bordering on addiction and steeps to such an evocative depressive space that it’s disconcerting. She’s clearly a flawed individual, informed by the regret of her choices and a great range is needed for her spiral out of control. She’s got an impulsive irrationality that her character taps into that doesn’t allow for her to be stable. She’s really compelling and frustrating to watch.
The first of the film’s flaws is that William Collyer (Beale) is impossible to empathize with. I have a total aversion to grown men that are completely obsessed and crippled in the presence of their mothers. And there’s a visit to Collyer mother’s (Barbara Jefford) where there’s a very clear class, and generation gap that Hester is trying to overcome; that she’s being anchored to. Beale nails his performance because as required he’s meant to be somewhat redeemed as the film progresses, and he does that. But his character is such an insipid, callow presence that I felt instantly apathetic toward his character.
- Courtesy of Entertainment Time
What’s worse is that the cocksure, airforce lad Freddie Page (Hiddleston) is so laughably ‘stiff-upper-lip’, pub song singing and posh sounding that other than physical attraction (and in my opinion people, not that handsome); in other words he doesn’t have really any redeeming qualities whatsoever. There are moments where Hester’s character’s actions get him so riled up that HE IMMEDIATELY HAS TO START YELLING LIKE ITS SCENT OF A WOMAN ARRRRRGGHHHHHHHH. Please, stop yelling.
So the man she doesn’t want to be with; we hate; check. So the man she runs off with; we hate…What?! Yeah we hate him too. He’s a smarmy git. Check.
Director Terence Davies does a great job of transporting the viewer to post war Britain, jovial and celebratory as they relish in peace time. However, there’s a yearning. An allusion to female dissatisfaction with being put back into ‘their place’. There are wonderfully composed and shot scenes of the London Underground re-appropriated as a communal bomb shelter during the Battle of Britain that are moving and memorable. And I will say that he elicited such despair in the Hester scenes alone; wrestling with her decisions. The artistic visual style used to interpret the affair and subsequent feverish infatuation were a little more ‘style-over-substance’ for my mind.
The Deep Blue Sea looked good and featured a fantastic leading performance from Weisz but the men fail the film, like their characters fail Hester. Maybe that’s the point.
Blake Howard - follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman