Review: The Deep Blue Sea (2011)

Written and directed by Terence Davies, adapted from the play of the same name by Terence Rattigan. The wife of a British Judge is caught in a self-destructive love affair with a Royal Air Force pilot. Starring: Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, Simon Russell Beale, Ann Mitchell, Harry Hadden-Paton and Karl Johnson.

Previously adapted in 1955 with Vivien Leigh and Kenneth Moore, and ten stage versions to date amongst others, it’s safe to say they weren’t treading new ground, which demonstrates the main hurdle with taking something from stage to screen, there has to be enough of a change or new additions to make it truly successful. There are some films which you can so clearly feel were stories meant for the stage and this is one of them, it’s an extremely intimate and melodramatic story that’s simply much more suited for the environment of theatre. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t work as a film, but it’s apparent film isn’t the ideal vehicle for this story. There isn’t enough movement to the direction, it feels quite static and keeps to its more refined and quiet style which while reflecting the era its set well, needed a slight injection of energy to set itself apart.

Given that it’s undoubtedly a character-driven story, the majority is hinged upon the performances of Weisz and Hiddleston, it’s not a stretch by any means to see these two as a couple and their chemistry is extremely strong. The two of them do well having to move from being fantastically in love to screaming in each others faces and everything in-between, there isn’t a moment that feels insincere. Both the performances are compelling to watch, there’s a lot of emotion thrown at you but at the same time, neither are particularly memorable, they’re good but won’t stay with you very long.

The cinematography combined with the score and costume design make for a strong atmosphere of sadness, melancholy and a loss of innocence that accompanies any story set soon after the war, everything works together in perfect harmony to suit its period setting. Stories that take place around those times tend to have love and sorrow going hand in hand, and that’s exactly what you get with this film. Men went off to war and came back changed, intensifying all the issues with relationships that perhaps weren’t noticed before, turning passionate affairs into volatile relationships that aren’t meant to last. It’s a theme that’s been used over and over and it doesn’t seem as though this film has much to add.

The Deep Blue Sea is visually stunning, its period setting is utterly well served and immediately adds a strong atmosphere to what it has to offer. Weisz and Hiddleston give strong performances, alongside a great supporting cast. However, it’s hard to see how they’ve really added to the story, it feels as though it would still be better represented on the stage than screen, as its author intended. It’s worth watching but you can’t avoid the feeling that it’s treading a lot of the same ground that’s been done before.

Verdict: ✯✯✯

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