3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Love Obsessed (And Repressed),
This review is from: The Deep Blue Sea  [DVD] (DVD)
This 2011 Terence Davies adaption of Terence Rattigan's play of the same name is another beautifully crafted, well-acted and emotionally engaging piece of work from one of the UK's finest film-makers and, although, for me, it does not quite rank with Davies' best work, it is nevertheless a film well worth seeing (certainly for anyone interested in Davies' work). In keeping with much (probably all, actually) of Davies' work, The Deep Blue Sea is a slow-moving, deeply felt and evocative slice of cinema, set during Davies' favourite era, 1950s post-war Britain and telling the tale, against a backdrop of 'repressed Englishness', of Rachel Weisz's Hester Collyer, her broken marriage to Simon Russell Beale's upstanding member of the judiciary, Sir William Collyer, and her obsessive, doomed love for Tom Hiddleston's war pilot, Freddie Page.
In trademark fashion, Davies' film opens with a sublime piece of cinematic poetry as cinematographer Florian Hoffmeister's camera pans slowly across a street (with Hester peering through a window) to the sumptuous, tremulous sounds of Barber's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra. Thereafter, this haunting, maudlin melody is repeated at key points in Davies' tale, whilst Hoffmeister's camera evokes the era with slow pans, lingering close-ups and hypnotic revolves (a brilliant example of the latter, dwelling on Hester and Freddie's naked, intertwined bodies), and taking in (trademark Davies) pub singalongs, the London tube (in flashback) during the blitz and ancient milk floats.
Acting-wise, Davies' cast is pretty much flawless. Weisz is excellent as the insular and (irrationally) infatuated lover, as is Hiddleston as the flighty, inflammable Freddie, detached from Hester's emotional trauma, and suffering (FUBAR) in the wake of his war-time exploits. In addition, Davies uses his remaining cast members to memorably depict this era of self-deluded Puritanism and repressed emotion. Russell Beale is superb as the 'emotionless', but ultimately caring, William, a man hen-pecked not by his wife but rather his mother, an officious Barbara Jefford (who quips to Hester, 'beware of passion, it always leads to something ugly'). Hester (perhaps understandably) receives no respite from her father, Oliver Ford Davies' priest, who, in relation to his daughter's cuckolded husband, scolds, 'Your first loyalty is to him'. Interestingly, Davies depicts increasingly depressed (and suicidal) Hester receiving the most sympathetic hearing from his 'working class' (rather than 'professional') characters, Ann Mitchell's pragmatic landlady, Mrs Elton and Karl Johnson's 'philanthropist', Mr Miller.
Ultimately, although there is much to admire in Davies' subtle and reflective tale, I found it a little too one-paced and, indeed, one-track (narrative-wise) to be entirely successful. I think to a large extent this is because of the high esteem in which I hold Davies' greatest works, for me, the superior (and similar) tale of a woman's disintegration in House Of Mirth (with Gillian Anderson's, frankly, unsurpassable performance) and the infectious poignancy of The Long Day Closes. Nevertheless, The Deep Blue Sea is another beautiful, mostly mesmerising, piece of cinema and worthy of its place in Davies' body of work.