The Deep Blue Sea, 2011.
Written and Directed by Terence Davies.
Starring Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, Simon Russell Beale, Karl Johnson, Ann Mitchell, Harry Hadden-Paton, Sarah Kants and Jolyon Coy.
The wife of a British Judge leaves her husband to embark on a self-destructive love affair with an RAF pilot.
It is quite fitting that the closing film of of this year’s festival is directed by one of the hidden gems of British cinema, Terence Davies. Adapted from Terrence Rattigan’s play, Davies’ The Deep Blue Sea features what could potentially be the most emotionally raw performances of Rachel Weisz’s career.
Set in London in the 1950’s, we see Hester (Weisz) becoming bored of her dull marriage to judge William Collyer (Simon Russell Beale) and her even duller mother-in-law (the very funny Ann Mitchell). When brash, self centred Freddie (Tom Hiddleston), an RAF pilot, offers her something new and exciting she begins an affair with him.
William finds out about her adultery but holds back on a divorce, forcing Hester to deal with the fact the she loves Freddie more than he loves her. At the same time she still holds on to the memory of the comfortable but uninteresting life her husband can provide; caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.
During the opening fifteen to twenty minutes of the film I must admit I thought it showed signs of being a slow, self indulgent movie, however from half an hour in onwards I was engrossed in the characters and the drama involving Hester. As I mentioned previously I believe that this understated role is a stand out performance for Rachel Weisz with a stellar performance from Tom Hiddleston to match.
Davies not only manages to get the best from his actors but he creates a beautifully elegant post war London that thanks to Florian Hoffmeister’s cinematography feels like you are being taken in to nostalgic photographs from that period in British history. Davies also shows us the traditional British ‘stiff upper lip’ and we are treated to scenes of togetherness and camaraderie that provoke genuine feelings of sentiment even in youngsters like myself who have no idea what life was like in the 1950s. And because of that, the time in which Hester’s story is set makes for an interesting character study during a time in Britain that relied heavily on fresh optimism, a paradoxical match that makes for an highly engrossing movie.
Jon Dudley is a freelance film and television journalist and his 17-minute short film Justification was shown at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.