Friday, 1 June 2012

The Deep Blue Sea



The year: Around 1950. The place: London. The timeframe: 24 hours, with lots of flashbacks. The setting: Hester Collyer (played by Rachel Weisz) has just attempted suicide in her small apartment. The plot: Tries to explain how Hester has come to do this. Her long marriage to a wealthy judge was (or had become) devoid of passion, so when a much younger passionate man shows an interest, Hester leaves her husband to live with the young man. Needless to say, this does not result in happily-ever-after. The background: Based on a 1952 play by Terence Rattigan (and it feels like a play at times). The verdict: A dark unique work of cinematic art with a number of breathtaking scenes. And yet...
The Deep Blue Sea is also an unsatisfying, achingly slow-paced, relentlessly depressing drama which will appeal only to a very limited audience. It’s one of those films that makes the average filmgoer shake her head and wonder what the average film critic was smoking when they watched the film. When the credits began to roll at the end of the film, the man sitting next to me in the theatre turned to his wife and said: “What a complete waste of time.” I did not share his opinion but The Deep Blue Sea is not an easy film to enjoy. And yet...
The acting was stellar throughout, with Rachel Weisz superb in the lead role. The cinematography and score were outstanding. And the dialogue was obviously constructed with great care and precision (as one would expect from a play). Then there were the beautifully-filmed drawn-out scenes with long tracking shots which took my breath away. So in many ways, The Deep Blue Sea is a brilliantly-made film. And yet...
I find myself caught in a dilemma because I have almost no interest in ever seeing The Deep Blue Sea again. Based on my rating criteria, the film should therefore not deserve more than **+. But it was far too well made to receive such a poor grade and objectively deserves at least ***+. I am caught between understanding the disappointing reviews of the masses and yet also understanding the glowing reviews of the critics. What to do?
Sigh. I cannot, in good conscience, give The Deep Blue Sea a top rating when I am not sure I want to see it again. I cannot, in good conscience, give The Deep Blue Sea a lousy rating when it is such an exceptionally well-made film. I seem to have misplaced my mug.

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