Filmmaker Adrian Lyne has returned, some 20 years since his final thriller, “Untrue” (2002), and the provocateur is again and in his component.
Whereas premiering on Hulu, Lyne’s “Deep Water” would truly make for a fantastic date film, the type the place you debate and choose it aside at size as soon as it ends.
Ben Affleck stars as Vic Van Allen, a rich father whose marriage to Melinda (Ana de Armas) is deeply troubled. Whereas she regularly runs off and has affairs, he stalks her and sulks in just contained jealousy.
He additionally has the odd behavior of inviting her lovers over for dinner, the place he takes a possibility to scare them off. One other troubling high quality to Vic is that he likes to overtly joke that he murdered one in every of his spouse’s long-vanished former lovers.
Is he kidding round?
Primarily based on a novel by the nice Patricia Highsmith, the writer of “The Proficient Mr. Ripley” and “Strangers on a Practice,” this isn’t of that caliber, nor on the extent with Lyne’s career-highs of “Deadly Attraction” (1987) and “Jacob’s Ladder” (1990).
Nonetheless, “Deep Water” is a lot better than “Untrue” and really fairly just like “Gone Woman,” which maybe explains what drew Affleck to the fabric.
One other cinematic cousin is, oddly sufficient, Terrence Malick’s “To The Marvel” (2013), wherein Affleck starred as one other American husband who’s unable to completely join and even perceive his European spouse; that component wanted additional definition right here, although Melinda’s habits goes past cultural distinction and into acts of giddy defiance.
The function of Vic was clearly written for a a lot quirkier, extra subdued actor, not a film star recognized for taking part in each Batman and Jack Ryan. Somewhat than appear miscast, Affleck connects with the tortured interior psyche of the character, is each shifting and intense (the previous throughout all of his scenes with Gracie Jenkins, nice enjoying his onscreen daughter) and made me root for him lengthy after I ought to have.
The proficient de Armas has a trickier project, as her character alternates between being admirably uninhibited and loathsome. Some could accuse this of misogyny, however Lyne, at all times joyful to nudge the viewers within the ribs and power them to take sides, has it each methods.
Melinda could have a petulant, self-destructive angle in the direction of her husband however, in any case, she could also be married to a person able to horrible acts.
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I usually questioned who the extra objectionable partner was all through “Deep Water” and located my loyalty to the characters regularly shifting. Lyne is coping with sensationalistic potboiler materials that, in lesser arms, would have been fodder for a Lifetime TV film.
As a substitute, whereas that is extra eye-catching than insightful total, it’s much better than the likes of “The Woman on the Practice” or the current “The Woman within the Window.”
As anticipated from the director, “Deep Water” is gorgeous, deeply involving, stuffed with nice character actors enhancing restricted supporting roles and lingers within the thoughts afterwards, nagging us with unanswered questions. As along with his prior thrillers, we’re meant to query what we’d do if we have been within the footwear of both leads.
Maybe Lyne won’t ever prime “Deadly Attraction,” not solely by way of the caliber of thriller it nonetheless is but in addition the way it rattled its viewers so profoundly; it grew to become a dialog piece for the zeitgeist that by no means ended (in reality, a televised model is about to air later this year on Paramount+).
If Lyne goes again to the style that he significantly impacted and elevated, a minimum of it’s with a piece that’s unafraid to take possibilities.
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It’s unlucky that Sprint Mihok of “Ray Donovan” fame and Lil’ Rel Howery are solely readily available to play the exposition spouting “greatest buddy” components, although these roles are hardly ever this sharply solid. Playwright and character actor Tracy Letts steals all of his scenes as a customer who instantly dislikes and doesn’t belief Vic.
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I want the ending have been stronger, as issues wrap up in a satisfying method, however the movie doesn’t actually go wherever or have an total level to make. There are some baffling touches, like Vic’s tending to a whole bunch of snails (arguably essentially the most ridiculous side right here) and a few third act edits, supposed to disclose a significant plot level, fail to make clear whodunit.
What the movie establishes firstly can also be true on the finish – the cyclical impact of neglecting one’s marriage will result in its wreck. Nevertheless, it’s not even that straightforward right here, as we’re compelled to both sympathize with the spouse who’s bored and stifled by a disappointing marriage or the husband that adores his spouse however is flaccid in his makes an attempt to tame her wild facet.
As Lyne erotic thrillers go, the ending remains to be higher outlined than the conclusion of both his “Untrue” or the rotten-to-the-core “Indecent Proposal,” however doesn’t depart an influence just like the unforgettable, crass (and famously reshot) finale of “Deadly Attraction.”
Make no mistake: whereas the viewers will really feel frustration with these characters, Lyne solely finds enjoyment of toying with us.
Welcome again, sir.
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