The Deep Blue Sea
dir-scr Terence Davies
prd Sean O'Connor, Kate Ogborn
with Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, Simon Russell Beale, Karl Johnson, Ann Mitchell, Harry Hadden-Paton, Sarah Kants, Jolyon Coy
release UK 25.Nov.11, US Dec.11
11/UK Film4 1h38
The Deep Blue Sea
Tough love: Hiddleston and Weisz

weisz hiddleston davies
london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Deep Blue Sea Based on the 1952 Terence Rattigan play, this exquisitely made British drama moves at its own slow pace, pitting repressed emotions against reckless passion. It's also rather gloomy and downbeat, almost reluctant to let us see glimmers of hope in the story.

Hester (Weisz) is tormented by the trajectory of her life: the wife of High Court judge Sir William (Beale), she has fallen for the dashing Battle of Britain pilot Freddie (Hiddleston), who lets their physical relationship dissipate as he struggles to find a role in society after the war. Now isolated and desperate, Hester attempts suicide but only succeeds in making her life worse. Freddie is furious, and William is unnervingly caring. She's caught between the devil and the deep blue sea: is there any way she can have a happy life?

Davies writes and directs the story with a beautifully light touch, using minimal dialog when a glance or touch can convey everything we need to know. Elegant camerawork and softly detailed production design forces us into Hester's perspective in each scene, letting us experience both her soaring romance and aching emptiness. And a startling classical song score continually underlines the emotions in ways we don't expect.

At the centre of the film, Weisz is a whirlwind of feelings, as Hester clings to what she knows while being unseettled by the people she interacts with. Weisz hits every note right, breaking our hearts in the process. And Hiddleston is especially strong as the sexy guy who doesn't quite see how his actions reverberate around him. By comparison, Beale's role is little more than an extended cameo, but he also brings a compassionate dignity to William that catches us off guard.

The plot is actually very simple, as what happens has more to do with relationships and feelings than story or action. And yes, this means that the film is extremely internalised, almost sleepy in the way some of the scenes roll out. But Davies fills every moment with intense observations about how people interact, especially in this place and time when repression was considered a virtue. But of course, we know that it's impossible to hold all of this in forever, and we also know that moving on is never easy.

cert 12 themes, language 22.Sep.11

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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall