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Deep Water Movie Review

Deep Water’s main purpose is to serve as a record for celebrity chroniclers of the off-screen affair that made co-stars Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas a tabloid thing for a minute, hopefully with better chemistry than they generate onscreen. However, it serves a secondary purpose for those of us who have ever pondered Tracy Letts’ extraordinary talents as both a playwright and an actor and thought, “Is there anything he can’t do?” It turns out he couldn’t escape an Adrian Lyne sexual thriller undamaged, nor can anyone else in this case.

Letts plays Don Wilson, a faintly sketched author of some type who continuously side-eyes his circle of well-heeled friends as they bounce from one garden or pool party to the next in their lush suburban New Orleans bubble. Don is ostensibly seeking for dirt for a book he’s working on, but his disgusted expression mostly indicates, “Who wrote this shit?” That is, until he is thrown into a ridiculous climax that appears to have missed some crucial basic foreplay in the editing. Which could lead to a third reason for the film’s existence if Letts and his wife, Carrie Coon, decide to see it one night and have a few cringing belly laughs.

Lyne, a once-prominent creator of glossy titillation trash such as 912 Weeks, Fatal Attraction, and Indecent Proposal, has been missing since his fairly tasteful 2002 effort, Unfaithful. Never one to turn down a dangerous lady who attracts trouble, he adapts Patricia Highsmith’s 1957 novel, which was first filmed in a 1981 French version named Eaux Profondes, starring Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant, and then adapted for German television two years later. Lyne’s interpretation on the material, penned without distinction by Zach Helm and Sam Levinson, manages to leach everything of Highsmith’s delicacy and psychological complexity from her story of marital struggle, transgression, and obsession.

Erotic thrillers are out of character for Disney, which inherited the New Regency banner as part of the Fox merger. So the picture has been gathering dust since its original November 2020 release date, changing twice before being bumped to Hulu for domestic and Amazon for international distribution. It’s excellent streaming fare since you can check your Twitter account, play Wordle, go online shopping, and even make a grilled cheese sandwich without fear of being left behind by the sluggish pace.

Affleck plays Vic Van Allen, a moody computer entrepreneur who scowls a lot while aggressively cycling about town like Jennifer Beals in Flashdance, but mostly just seems bored or constipated. That holds true even while he is being humiliated by his wife, Melinda (de Armas)open ,’s extramarital affairs with a string of men, the younger and dumber the better. Malcolm McRae, one of her recent flings, has gone missing, and Vic scares off her current plaything Joel (Brendan C. Miller) by claiming to have killed him.

McRae’s body is finally discovered in the woods, and while Highsmith’s novel solved the murder and cleared Vic, the screenplay — or perhaps the frantic attempt to inject some suspense in the edit — keeps things murky. So you convince yourself, “No, it couldn’t be so obvious,” for much of the plodding two-hour running length, and then when you realize it is, you wait for a twist that never comes.

Vic remains a frightening guy despite his emasculated pride and the pitying camaraderie of his best friends (Lil Rel Howery and Dash Mihok). That is not to suggest threatening. He skulks around at home or spends time in a hothouse out back fingering the snails he produces for visually symbolic motives I don’t even want to comprehend, having retired young after designing a chip used in drone warfare. Melinda’s clanging symbolism of chewing into a delicious red apple she just happens to have on hand while teasing Vic in the car is at least less unpleasant.

Following Joel’s departure, Melinda moves on to a tall drink of water named Charlie De Lisle (Jacob Elordi), who plays piano at a cocktail bar and greets her with “The Lady Is a Tramp.” She gets increasingly bold at home, returning from walks-of-no-shame still intoxicated in the mornings, criticizing Vic for being passionless and snarling, “If you were married to anyone else, you’d be so fucking bored you’d kill yourself.”

That should tell us something about Vic’s secretive nature as well as the couple’s strange interdependence, as they clearly keep together to avoid a messy divorce. Given that the stigma connected to divorce in the late 1950s, when Highsmith wrote the novel, has long since faded, they must be held together by some other magnetic pull. But the script lacks the psychological understanding — or even the interest — to find it. The closest we get is Adrian Lyne’s idea that jealousy is a powerful turn-on. Vic never appears even mildly aroused. He’s only just waking up.

Nonetheless, Charlie is pushed out of the scene, followed by the return of Tony Cameron (Finn Wittrock), Melinda’s ex-boyfriend. When Tony arrives at the Van Allens’ house for supper, she screams, “Tony was the first American I fucked!” That’s a great icebreaker. Even before Tony goes missing, Melinda has begun aggressively accusing Vic of murdering her conquests, and she’s joined forces with nosy Don to employ the most useless private detective in film history. Despite this, the cops show little interest in Vic.

A more inquisitive filmmaker and writers may have made something out of a wealthy white man scarcely raising suspicion in the midst of a slew of heinous actions. But not in this case. The detective who does question Vic (Jeff Pope) briefly brings up the widespread knowledge that his wife has been sleeping around but then drops the subject without further investigation. The dearth of cohesive logic is as vexing as the loss of a feeling of place, and tension is also lacking, despite composer Marco Beltrami’s hard-working strings.

While Lyne is the king of luxury slut-shaming, the majority of his films are better vehicles for his female stars than for his male stars – Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, Demi Moore in Indecent Proposal, and Diane Lane in Unfaithful.

The same can be said for de Armas, who looks stunning in a thousand different variations on the little black dress or pantsuit — usually with a plunging neckline or backless — and has a sleepy sensuality that makes you think she’d be a good choice to play Marilyn Monroe in Andrew Dominik’s eagerly anticipated Blonde.

However, with her ten minutes onscreen in No Time to Die, the rising star was afforded more leeway. We don’t know much about Melinda’s background except that she has an accent and sings Paolo Conte at a party, so maybe she’s Italian? Her instructions appear to be mostly “Look hot,” “Dance hot,” “Pout hot,” and “Touch yourself.” All we really learn is that she’s a sexpot, to use an archaic term, who needs to be desired by someone less wooden than Vic to feel alive.

There’s little doubt that Melinda is the most vibrant character in this stale thriller, which makes the fact that the perspective is solely that of dreary old Vic, the human snail, a stumbling block.

Deep Water Movie Review
Deep Water Movie Review
Deep Water Movie Review
Deep Water Movie Review


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