Movie: The Deep Blue Sea (2011)
If you’re familiar with Tumblr, The Avengers and a certain God of Mischief, you might have noticed the insane amount of fangirls flocking to “Loki’s Army”. Tom Hiddleston has gotten quite the following, and I believe there are very good reasons for that. So, to really get to the bottom of this, I decided to view everything he’s ever been in, as I am wont to do whenever I “discover” a new actor. Luckily for me, I had already seen most of it, except a certain movie that is not at all about genetically modified sharks.
The Deep Blue Sea stars Rachel Weisz as Hester, the wife of a well-off judge in 1950s London. She falls in love with a fighter pilot, Freddie. When shit hits the fan, there’s more than just your usual divorce trouble.
The best word I could think of to describe this film is peculiar. The 1940/50s style and mode of speech – we even get an “Old Blighty” – has clearly affected my writing style, so please bear with me.
The thing that makes it so peculiar is that it’s not a linear story at all. It’s all over the place, back and forth, piece by piece, until we get about 60% of the story. For example, a scene very early in the movie has Freddie saying to Hester “I think you’re the most attractive woman I’ve ever met,” but we can’t be sure this was really their first meeting, even though there aren’t any other scenes that might fill in this gap. So it is with many other pieces. It’s an unfinished puzzle, just like the main character.
Hester seems to be suffering from severe depression, and uses her lust and obsession with Freddie as a literal life-line. She feels utterly unfulfilled in her marriage, so she seeks the young and hearty soul of Freddie. The difficulty, as is hinted at almost from the very start, is that Freddie probably suffers from shell shock, or PTSD as it’s called these days. Not severely, but he has a very short temper and has trouble adjusting to civilian life. Watching these two characters destroy each other is actually more fascinating than I would have thought.
The problem is in the telling. The longest scenes are by far the best because you can forget for a moment the randomness of the flashbacks and odd little shots that do nothing to tell the story – for example a scene of Hester waiting for the car even though we already had that scene, only now she’s wearing her jacket for five seconds as we hear the car honk. Hiddleston and Weisz are both beautiful, talented people who can certainly justify the mad lust the characters feel for each other. If only we could get in a little deeper by way of a slightly more linear plot. Maybe we could understand it all better, or at least be a little more sympathetic.
Instead, there is a sense that the film rests too much on its style. To be sure, there are some wonderfully shot scenes. My favourite was without a doubt a scene in the underground during the Blitz, with people huddled together to wait for the calm, and a single man singing Molly Malone. The setting and costumes feel spot on, but sometimes the music gave it an odd Victorian feel. Again, you get the sense that the style and music are screaming at you: “this is emotionally devastating!” Without these cues of music and slow pans across Weisz’ blank face, the film consists only of a half dozen really great scenes between the leads.
It should of course be noted that these scenes have some jolly good acting, and splendid dialogue, and all the fangirls of Loki’s Army can be comforted that Hiddleston does a smashing job. (That’s enough Old Blighty speak for now)
The Deep Blue Sea would probably not be improved by the sharks from Deep Blue Sea, but it does desperately need more of something. You could classify it as the depressed housewife tale, but it feels like its trying to convince you it’s a great tragedy, even though Hester tells us that’s too strong a word: it’s really just sad.
Dice roll: 3