The Deep Blue Sea: directed and written by Terence Davies
The final shot we see of Hester Collyer in The Deep Blue Sea occurs a few minutes before the film ends. After having a good cry Hester goes to the window of her apartment and opens the shutter. It’s a trivial action in the grander scheme, but in film where we must pay keen attention to what goes on in the frame it suggests much – she’s letting the light in, she’s looking out to a new life, etc. It is a lovely bit of symmetry from director Terence Davies, for the very first time we see Hester she is closing the shutters on the very same window about to attempt suicide after a tiff with her lover Freddie. And, in that way, The Deep Blue Sea is rather basic.
But, as I noted, The Deep Blue Sea and its plot-less roots is not specifically interested in holding the viewer’s emotions at ransom as we observe which side she clings to. We know, even if we think we don’t, we do. What we’re privy too is an observation of how decisiveness to ones ideals (however vague, and however dangerous) can be something terrible and still something liberating. The use of the word “liberating”, though, seems ironic. In nature The Deep Blue Sea is not explicitly unreal, but frame after frame Davies’ film unfolds like an impressionistic painting. Director of photography Florian Hoffmeister with an enviable use of light and colour lends a sophisticated beauty to the narrative which is at once – deliberately, I suspect – at odds with the story itself. As if it to say, something this gorgeous can’t be devastating…can she?
These are basic things, and The Deep Blue Sea is – at its root, rather basic. But its basic nature is one which evokes decades gone by. When Rattigan wrote this play, Hester’s dilemma would have been a contemporary issue for the time, and Davies film doesn’t take a look back at a time gone by but instead creates the film as if it were something from the fifties. There is no knowing suggestion of a modern day creator espying the lives of a former period, the film doesn’t even look like a traditional period piece from today would look, the music (both borrowed pieces and original) seem specifically suited to a Wyler piece. Weisz, of course, in a piece so structured overpowers all else making the film the slightest bit limp when she’s out of the frame. Which is an unjust thing to say for the film itself, and her cast, are more than competent. Hiddleston and Beale as either sides of Hester’s “sea” are good, as is Ann Mitchell in particular giving a surprisingly robust performance as the landlady.
Lovely / B+
A/N: Just in case you’re wondering, which is unlikely but in the nature of full disclosure I’ll inform you nonetheless, the title of my 2012 reviews – unlike my 2011 reviews – are not lines of dialogue from the film (hence the lack of quotation marks). Instead, they are not so arbitrarily chosen words that surmise the main thrust of the film for me.
A/N 2: Most of you already know how seriously I take the grading process, so I'm not liable to change grades flippantly - if ever - but a second viewing of this increased my appreciation exponentially, almost as if its softness made me afraid to appreciate its splendor. I include the original grade only for continuity, but the official grade is now....
What would we do without you? / A-