'The Deep Blue Sea' drowns in sorrow
By Suzie Setzler and Krysti Peacock
Directed by Terence Davies, this British film adaptation is based on the 1952 Terence Rattigan play, "The Deep Blue Sea," and stars Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston and Simon Russell Beale. Set around 1950 in London, the story essentially depicts the events over the course of one day, after a failed suicide attempt and a strained love triangle. It is a slow, methodical look at what it means to be caught between 'the devil and the deep blue sea,' and the ramifications of those choices.
Bleak and ominous, the film takes place after WWII. With a backdrop of painfully subdued colors, there is a quiet sadness that is instilled in the film, alongside overtly dramatic orchestral sounds that force us to concentrate on the characters and their actions. We see a woman, her face expressing her surrender as she attempts to take her life by allowing the fumes of gas to consume her dank and rickety apartment that she shares with her lover, a man whom she has run off with and has been living with for the past 10 months.
But she is eventually saved, and her depression quelled for the moment, as she is reminded by her neighbors that attempting suicide is a punishable crime. The film then begins to fade into vignettes of both past and present as we learn more about the woman, Hester Collyer (Weisz), the older husband - a prominent judge named Sir William Collyer (Beale) - whom she had left , and the man she is living with, Freddie Page (Hiddleston), an RAF pilot, who drinks as a pastime to help heal his frustrations after the war ending.
The story, much like the characters themselves, is anti-climatic. Hester's husband is neither mean nor cruel by any measure, but is not physically fulfilling either. And though her younger lover Freddie satisfies Hester in the bedroom, he too, does not seem to be able to fulfill Hester intellectually nor be able to provide the lifestyle that she had been accustomed too while married. Essentially, the love triangle with the characters lacking any self-respect is about their misguided actions due to their inability to understand what it means to love. And as we learn from the film, in order to love others, you must first love yourself.
Unfortunately, at times their actions almost felt pathetic, so much so that it was hard to watch because we could not identify with their continuously wretched behavior. Dare we say, Hester becomes deplorable in her actions? We will say that the film, however, is very well done, extremely well acted and visually and cinematically heartbreaking at moments, as the Davies lures you into the world of post war. London is broken and healing, as are the characters in the film. But though you can rebuild structures with concrete and rebar, it is not that easy with people. In the end, if you are a fan of English period dramas then "The Deep Blue Sea" will appeal to you.
'The Deep Blue Sea' opens at Kahala 8 Theater, Fri., July 20.