mon 04/03/2024

DVD: The Deep Blue Sea | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: The Deep Blue Sea

DVD: The Deep Blue Sea

Terence Davies's flawed adaptation of Rattigan's doomed love triangle set in depressing 1950s London

Rachel Weisz stars as Hester Collyer in Rattigan adaptation

Terence Davies's screen treatment of Terence Rattigan's play gets plenty of things right, not least its smoggy evocation of the seedy, exhausted London of the early 1950s, with its shabby colours, peeling paintwork and bomb damage.

The piece is essentially a three-hander, and Davies's lead trio acquit themselves admirably. Rachel Weisz may be a little too fresh and luminous as Hester Collyer, repressed wife of High Court judge Sir William Collyer, but her determination to break free from her background and claustrophobic circumstances through her affair with ex-fighter pilot Freddie Page is evoked with gruelling intensity. Tom Hiddleston's Freddie is a bitter, disillusioned drunk, hollowed out by his wartime heroics and incapable of taking a relationship beyond the superficially sexual. "His life stopped in 1940," Hester reflects. "He's never been really happy since the war." Freddie is able to say, without irony but with horrible poignancy: "We were doing something important for dear old Blighty."

But Freddie's belated triggering of her own sexuality has blown Hester's life wide open. The piece opens with her attempted suicide, since Freddie can't handle a three-dimensional relationship (let alone one with a woman who reads Shakespeare sonnets and loves visiting art galleries) and plans to leave her, but she can't contemplate going back to her husband. Simon Russell Beale's Sir William is the pick of the performances, as he metaphorically peels off his Old Establishment garb to reveal the gentle and sympathetic man beneath, albeit an emotionally circumscribed one. At first resentful of Hester's betrayal, he's able to admit that "anger fades and is replaced by regret."

The film falls short when Davies fails to mind the gap between theatre and screen, and topples into some hideously stagey false steps. An interminable pan down a crowded and dimly-lit Tube station as the Luftwaffe drones overhead and plucky Londoners sing "Molly Malone" to keep their spirits up is like a sketch by Armstrong & Miller, while several key emotional moments are semaphored in flashing pink neon by the treacly strains of Samuel Barber's violin concerto, a disastrous tonal mismatch. These melodramatic lacunae deal grievous blows to the narrative fabric.

Extras include an interview with Davies in which he discusses his adaptation and highlights some dramatic themes and key points in the action, though it's marred by poor audio quality. There's also a Making Of in which Beale, Weisz and Hiddleston all make thoughtful contributions.

Watch trailer for The Deep Blue Sea

The film falls short when director Terence Davies fails to mind the gap between theatre and screen


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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