Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The Deep Blue Sea

Love, some say it's a curse. Others call it a blessing. One thing I think most can agree on, it's one of the most powerful and mysterious forces in the universe. No more so is this enigmatic emotion shown than in Terrence Davies' homage to old school cinematic melodramas in the adaptation of Terrence Rattigan's stage play, The Deep Blue Sea. Not to be confused at all as a follow-up to the Samuel L Jackson shark gorefest, Deep Blue Sea. Got it? Good, let's move on...

The film tells the tale of Hester (Rachel Weisz) as she tries to re-evaluate her life after a failed suicide attempt. At the centre of it all is her undying almost destructive love for her current husband, Freddy (Tom Hiddleston) and the nostalgic, comforting, stable love from the man she left him for William (Simon Russell Beale).

I've always thought of Weisz as a charming and competent actress but in The Deep Blue Sea she has rarely ever been so alluring as well as being so passionate and at times so utterly unsympathetic. The sheer awkwardness of her initial attraction to Hiddleston adds to the incoherent mess she finds herself in, and makes for some brilliant car crash cinema.

Tom Hiddleston was rather marvellous as the obnoxious, stiff upper lip, working class ex-RAF Brit, Freddy. He enters the film as this suave, dapper male and once the initial primal instincts subside into reality, he's revealed to be nothing more than this petulant, childish, brattish man who never really recovered from the horrors of World War 2. While Simon Russell Beale's older, prouder more cultured William offers Ester what she can't get from Freddy; money, stability and far less drama.

They almost make up one complete male together, and you get that impression Ester makes that conclusion herself towards the latter end of the film, but ultimately the passion reins supreme. She can't explain why she's drawn to Freddy, she nearly kills herself because of it, but it's just there. Even if the message is a little muddled at times.

Visually though Davies has made a film which just oozes class. It sometimes does feel a little too much like a stage play rather than a film, but the cinematography was just beautiful on the eye. Especially in those long drawn out scenes of Weisz smoking a cigarette by the window, harking back to a forgotten era of cinema, and just letting the smoke linger for that second or two longer than needed.

Furthermore the stunning, if at times overly ostentatious, score featuring the at times moving, at times overly destructive Violin Concerto by Samuel Barber almost gives it a Hitchcockian undertone. This tense feeling something more profoundly sinister is just waiting to occur, when in reality it results in something simply quite tragic.

Final Thoughts
It doesn't always hit the mark of cinematic excellence with a disorientating narrative and some hammy, awkward scenes of drama. Nevertheless Rachel Weisz has excelled herself in her most sexy and at times unforgiving performance alongside an ever versatile Tom Hiddleston and accomplished Simon Russell Beale. Terrence Davies' The Deep Blue Sea is a film of pure indulgence on the eye even if beneath its glossy, smoke tinted surface leaves one feeling rather confused, disconnected and hollow. But hey that's love sometimes I guess... isn't it?


The Deep Blue Sea is in selected cinemas across the UK now. Belfast viewers can see it exclusively at the Queen's Film Theatre from Friday December 2nd, 2011.

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