Mark Metcalf
NEW! Moving Pictures

“The Deep Blue Sea”

By - May 5th, 2012 12:25 pm

Hester Collyer (Rachel Weisz) finds herself caught up in a tempestuous love affair with an RAF pilot (Tom Hiddleston) in “The Deep Blue Sea.” Photo credit Film4 Productions.

In The Deep Blue Sea, protagonist Hester (Rachel Weisz) is married to a judge. He’s older. She isn’t. It is a kind marriage. A considerate one. One lacking in passion.

It is post-WWII England. The well-cared-for world that was shattered and shattered again during the war is trying to find itself, shake off the ruble and begin again. Hester meets Freddie, an RAF pilot, a man who has seen death and killed and is drinking and partying as fast as he can to forget that horror. Hester experiences the passion missing in her marriage and follows that pleasure, but the lasting love she needs is not there.

It could be the plot of one of the big Joan Crawford films of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Mildred Pierce, Daisy Kenyon, Harriet Craig all come to mind. A woman, married to the wrong man, dares to follow her passions, lingers at the edges of polite society, and ultimately dwindles away with her integrity intact but having sacrificed everything else.

In the hands of Crawford and Michael Curtiz or Otto Preminger the melodrama can carry you only so far. The Deep Blue Sea comes originally from the pen of Terence Rattigan, and this film version — there was a 1955 version starring Vivien Leigh — is directed by Terence Davies. Rattigan is a more complicated, deeper writer than most Hollywood hacks of the 1950’s; consequently his play, even when turned into film, has more resonance. You should also remember that he wrote this play at a time, 1952, when English drama was poised to undergo a post-war sea change and morph from a prim, vulnerable, feminine sensibility, into the angry young working class male sensibility of John Osborne and the like.

So The Deep Blue Sea is what many today might call old-fashioned and talky. It depends on language and demands a big, emotional performance from the leading lady. Weisz is up to the suffering. I find she suffers a trifle too much in a lot of her work, unless she’s being chased by a mummy, but the forlorn looks, the tortured curve of her voice fit right in here. It is a tragic performance, worthy of the depths of a classic, timeless play.

The Deep Blue Sea is now playing at the Oriental Theatre on Farwell.

Categories: Arts & Culture, Movies

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