Synopsis: Master chronicler of post-War England, Terence Davies (The Long Day Closes, The House of Mirth) directs Rachel Weisz as a woman whose overpowering love threatens her well-being and alienates the men in her life. In a deeply vulnerable performance, Rachel Weisz plays Hester Collyer, the wife of an upper-class judge (Simon Russell Beale) and a free spirit trapped in a passionless marriage. Her encounter with Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston), a troubled former Royal Air Force pilot, throws her life in turmoil, as their erotic relationship leaves her emotionally stranded and physically isolated. The film is an adaptation of British playwright Terence Rattigan’s 1952 play, featuring one of the greatest roles for an actress in modern theatre.
Release Date: March 23, 2012 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Drama, Period Piece
Though all genres of movies have their share of pitfalls, love stories are arguably the most prone to ending up cliched and derivative. This goes double for the sub-genre of tragic love stories, when characters actions and motivations aren’t portrayed clearly and originally cause audiences to lose interest and the movie to fall flat. This is unfortunately the case for Terence Davies’s The Deep Blue Sea, a film adaptation of Terence Rattigan’s stage play.
The Deep Blue Sea follows the story of Hester Collyer (Rachel Weisz), a young and slightly disturbed British woman who marries a successful but mostly dull Judge named William Collyer (Simon Russell Beale). One day she meets the young and handsome Royal Air Force hero Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston), with whom she begins an affair. The story develops into a tale of the expectations and disappointments of Hester on both sides of her love life and her descent into a dark depression and attempted suicide.
The Deep Blue Sea suffers mainly from its dullness, in what can be assumed to be an attempt to properly capture the tone and feeling of depression but simply leaves a bland residue over the entire plot. This dullness is sometimes properly utilized when showing Hester’s life with her husband, but then loses its effect when her “whirlwind romantic affair” is equally as dull to watch. Freddie Page is not a particularly enjoyable or interesting character, so Hester’s infatuation with him comes off as her leaving a cold lover for a mild one, allowing her no empathy from the audience.
It does need to be said that there is a very effective use of music in the movie. Much of the plot takes place inside of post-World War II era pubs with large groups of people singing Irish and English folk songs. These scenes do convey the proper tone and ground the emotions in the movie, with songs ranging from love ballads to funeral marches. However, these act as the only scenes worth mentioning in an otherwise completely drab showing and are not enough to save the movie from its shortcomings.
For how bland the delivery of The Deep Blue Sea is, none of the blame can fall on the acting. Weisz does carry the character of Hester as far as she possibly can given the dialogue. Her expressions do leave an impression on the audience and the soft lighting of the movie does allow for the darker features in her face to shine through; allowing her to express some extremely convincing sadness. Both Beale and Hiddleston are also proficient in their roles, though they have no real moments in which they can stretch their emotions and shine. The acting can only carry the movie so far and the dull tone and dialogue overshadow it greatly. This is definitely one you can skip.
The Deep Blue Sea seems to assume a lot of its audience, especially in the case of Hester’s romances. When we are presented with an old judge and a young air force pilot we are expected to assume that the pilot is more exciting and therefore Hester’s infatuation is justified. There is however little to no expansion on this throughout the movie and if the initial thought that the affair is obvious doesn’t hit then the rest of the movie is a bust.
There is also a problem where any sort of romance in the movie occurs within the introduction, a sort of moody montage of Hester’s married life into her beginning her affair with Freddie. Freddie never seems to have any motivation to be in love with Hester and this lack of connection makes the tragedy of Hester’s depression and suicide attempt seem forced. William seems to be the only character who has any motivation, and even that is so thin that it can be summed up in the cliched “he always does the right thing.”
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Terence Davies
- Producer(s): Sean O’ConnorKate Ogborn
- Screenwriter(s): Terence Davies
- Cast: Rachel Weisz (Hester Collyer)Tom Hiddleston (Freddie Page)Simon Russell Beale (William Collyer) Karl Johnson (Miller)Barbara Jefford (Mrs. Collyer)Ann Mitchell (Mrs. Elton)
- Editor(s): David Charap
- Cinematographer: Florian Hoffmeister
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA