Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
THE DEEP BLUE SEA
Directed by: Terence Davies
Running time: 98 min.
Release date: March 23, 2012 (NY & LA)
Genre: Drama, Romance, Remake and Adaptation
Distributor: Music Box Films
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Based on the 1952 stage play by Terence Rattigan, The Deep Blue Sea was first performed in London where it was praised by critics and audiences. It was evidence that Rattigan's view of life was growing deeper and more complex. It won praise for actress Peggy Ashcroft, who co-starred with Kenneth More. Its Broadway premiere in 1953, starring Margaret Sullavan, was not nearly so well-received. Later revivals have starred Penelope Wilton, Isabel Dean, Penelope Keith, Blythe Danner, Harriet Walter, and Greta Scacchi continuing into 2011.
However, these stage production plays of The Deep Blue Sea have twice been adapted into film. A 1955 version was directed by Anatole Litvak, starred Vivien Leigh and Kenneth More (from original stage production). In this 2011 (second) adaptation by Terence Davies, starring Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston and Simon Russell, a more emotionally revealing and unabashed look was taken.
This remake and adaptation is a period piece drama set in the 1950s post-war London. The neighbors of a forty-year old woman named Hester Collyer (Rachel Weisz) discover she attempted and failed to commit suicide. In flashback scenes to set up a backstory, the film shows some time before that Hester was a young privileged wife of an older Sir William Collyer (Simon Russel Beale), a respectable High Court Judge. However, the enticement of a heavy drinking and flashy Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston), a R.A.F. pilot causes her to relinquish her English middle-class values and start an affair with him. This physical and passionate relationship with Freddie causes Hester to leave her husband Sir William. Hester and Freddie's relationship is characterized by drunken rows. Though their love-life is passionate - they have little in common. These two outcasts, are socially ostracized for their excessive loves. Yet, they find a curious and moving kinship.
Rachel Weisz gives a magnificent performance in characterizing a lost and confused woman. Her appeal to the emotions of the audience is shocking yet sympathetic. Her freedom of love and passion is very revealing. Perhaps the motif of inversion, applied to everything from sexual and behavioral norms, to traditional values could be seen as a filmic representation of the real fact that feminism had removed certainties.
The aftershocks of her attempted suicide unravel even the remnants of this relationship, but by the end she is brought to a hard decision to live, partly through the intercession of her now estrange husband Sir William whom she can never return to. Freddie and Hester realize this destructive antisocial love affair can not exist under these situations.
In this classic tragedy, the central character Helen faces and is finally defeated by overwhelming threat and disaster. All of the performances by the triangular lead characters are active participants in the event through the tragic flaw of emotions, a shortcoming of the protagonist Helen's lack of pride, rashness and indecision. This reinforces the emphasis on action derived from her character, in which Rachel Weisz's brilliant performance explains the psychological and moral interest of much of this great drama. It is the type of tragedy that focuses on not on how she brings about, but on how she meets her fate.
The stimulating plot flows evenly all the way through the film. The pacing is crisp, lively and challenging. The setting and atmosphere is successful. Yet, the pathos-filled tale of romance and domestic situations with stereotypical characters brings appeal to audience members who could be considered 'weepers'.
The Deep Blue Sea brings to life fear of emotional commitment, terror in the face of passion, and the apprehension about sex.
FILM RATING (A-)