The Deep Blue Sea

For those who found Revolutionary Road too upbeat comes its British postwar counterpart in the soul-crushing slog that is The Deep Blue Sea (for those hoping to read a review of Renny Harlin’s guilty pleasure of a shark movie, the title of that is simply Deep Blue Sea, so sorry to disappoint you!). Set in 1950 post-war London, The Deep Blue Sea gives us Hester (Rachel Weisz), a smart, cultured, and ardent woman at a time when none of those traits was apparently valued in British society. Hester leaves her staid marriage to a wealthy judge old enough to be her father (and who looks old enough to be her grandfather), falling in for a fiery affair with a handsome pilot nearer her age named Freddie (Tom Hiddleston, or Loki to Avengers fans out there). The drag is, Freddie’s rather a creep and has issues with both commitment and finding gainful employment. So, Hester is trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea in these two men, one representing the cold comfort of a sexless, passionless marriage of financial security, and the other offering a sexually charged but ultimately destructive relationship. The main difficulty with the movie is that while it’s billed as a romantic drama, there’s not much romance. The turgid drama gets way more screen time than the sex and romance. The Deep Blue Sea starts out with a sad suicide attempt and builds relentlessly toward an even more desolate ending, with very few sparks in between. In short, the fine, intelligent acting is swamped by a movie that’s just too bleak.

The HD video transfer here is one of the most shockingly poor misfires I’ve witnessed on Blu-ray. Obviously, a stylized soft and hazy period look was intended by the filmmakers, but it’s hard to believe the artistic intent was a home video image riddled with so much pulsing noise and the bad kind of swarming digital grain. Whatever the intentions, it simply looks very, very poor. The only uplifting aspect of the movie and its presentation is the superbly recorded and rendered score, highlighted by divine violin playing. The score doesn’t always seem to be playing with the drama onscreen, but it’s pretty to listen to nevertheless. Extras include a director’s commentary with Terence Davies, the trailer, a half-hour lecture by Davies, a short making-of feature, and smart interviews with Hiddleston and Weisz that are far more compelling than the movie itself. l

Studio: Music Box Films, 2011
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 98 mins.
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Terence Davies
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, Simon Russell Beale