"“A very thought-provoking film and one that when approached in the right mindset, is a riveting watch…”"
As the 55th BFI London Festival comes to its finale, its closing feature The Deep Blue Sea ensured that the triumphant festival finished emphatically – as Terence Davies latest feature is an intellectual, endearing piece of filmmaking.
In what is Davies first feature film in eleven years, The Deep Blue Sea is yet another thought-provoking drama from the well-renowned and celebrated director.
Based on Terence Rattigan’s play of the same name, it tells the story of Hester (Rachel Weisz), an idealistic romantic, suffering from the pains of love and its vices. Married to a wealthy judge William Collyer (Simon Russell Beale), Hester is clearly unhappy, and begins an affair with the less cultural and sophisticated Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston), discovering both love and sex for the first time.
However, her love for Freddie almost becomes too much for her, as Hester tragically attempts to take her own life. Her suicide attempt fails however, and when Freddie learns of her effort, suddenly the once blissful relationship begins to break down.
Set in the 1950’s, the film looked terrific. It seemed to capture the essence of London post-World War Two, combining the hope and optimism restored in Britain, with Hester’s melancholy to dramatic effect. The setting and somewhat vaporous atmosphere almost made the film seem as though it was actually shot in the 1950’s rather then just being set there.
The film did become quite dreary in parts and arguably survived on the performance of Weisz, sensational in the role of Hester. She has a naivety to her, which conflicted with her self-assurance, making for a fascinating character. Susceptible to emotions, she played the role of a suicidal lover with sincerity and earnestness.
Both Hiddlestone and Beale were also tremendous, both showing off an array of emotions, both characters needing a combination of sentiment and pride, delivered masterfully by both actors.
But it is the subtlety in Davies filmmaking which gives the film its impact. For example, the small things such as when Freddie is reading Hester suicide note. Where we would expect to see his reaction to such a letter, instead we see Hester, as the camera focuses on her reaction as she watches Freddie read on. It was the small moments like this which made the film unique, enhancing the emphasis on Hester, as the film is mostly following proceedings from her perspective.
I was also pleased with the length of the feature. This could so easily have been two and a half hours long, in which case it would have become inane and tedious, but fortunately Davies kept it at a regular length, ensuring that just when the audience were on the brink of becoming bored, he wrapped it up.
A criticism however, is that the film is too perceptibly based on a play. With little action and much emphasis on dialogue, you could tell that this would perhaps work better on stage, where dialogue is more imperative to the success of a production. It was lacking cinematically, and despite the use of very dramatic orchestral music accompanying the film, it couldn’t make up for a film that needed more vehemence in its approach.
One other criticism is that Hester was driven to a point of suicide, yet we weren’t presented such a decline in her depression. It was clear she was rather unhappy but more emphasise should have been on her despair, to make her attempt at taking her own life seem more rational, and therefore more affecting.
However, despite it’s monotony in parts, the performances from the cast and the astuteness and veracity infused by Davies made for a very thought-provoking film and one that when approached in the right mindset, is a riveting watch, except one that I just feel should perhaps have remained in the theatre.