Based on the Terence Rattigan play from 1952, British drama film The Deep Blue Sea is a period piece with an ageless tale. This tale is of logic being drowned out by waves of passion and is told with some power, thanks to a magnificent show from the beautiful Rachel Weisz who gives the best performance of her career in her heartbreaking role.
Weisz plays an intelligent young woman in the 1950s, who has just discovered her sexuality, and is torn into a mindset of self-harm, caught by overwhelming feelings of lust that wear down her good judgment.
The character Weisz plays is Hester Collyer, the wife of a high court judge, Sir William Collyer (Simon Russell Beale), who is having an affair with a Royal Air Force pilot, Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston). The film is mostly set in Hester’s flat, while she contemplates suicide. Through flashbacks we learn that she used to live with her husband in a luxurious house, and moved into a dreary flat because of her addiction to Freddie. While Sir William was a safe, comfortable and loving partner, in Freddie, she found the ‘bad boy’ that sparked something wild in her.
While Sir William gave her a life that was boring and traditional, and where she had to put up with dinners with a mother-in-law (Barbara Jefford) who had nothing but disdain for her, in Freddie she found a life of carefree fun. Unfortunately, she can’t seem to find completely what she needs in Freddie either, who has other hobbies that interest him as well and doesn’t quite understand all the fuss of the whole situation.
Well written and strongly enacted, The Deep Blue Sea examines the desperation of being in love with the wrong person and how unreasonable expectations of finding perfection in one partner, once shattered, can lead to personal chaos. The interesting view it presents of London is after the Second World War, and the city, like the movie’s lead characters, comes across as fatigued.
Deliberately paced, The Deep Blue Sea is a fascinatingly grim looking film. For those viewers having freshly recovered from the murky waters of an affair, be warned, The Deep Blue Sea will certainly reopen old wounds.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, May 20th, 2012.
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