SYNOPSIS: Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck star in this tense, mystery thriller based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith. A husband becomes the primary suspect when his wife's lovers start dying, after letting his wife have affairs in order to avoid a divorce. Who's really telling the truth?
81-year-old English director Adrian Lye known for his sexually-charged thrillers, Fatal Attraction, Indecent Proposal and Unfaithful returns to helm Deep Water after an absence of two decades from the big screen.
This so-called erotic psychological thriller based on a 1957 Patricia Highsmith novel stars Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas as the Van Allens, Vic and Melinda. With the sultry Melinda hooking up younger men as and when she likes, their rich social circle frequently talks openly about their marriage. Maybe Melinda is stuck in a loveless marriage. Maybe Vic is unwilling to divorce her because of their young daughter (the only bright spot in the movie) or because he has to spilt his riches with her. Something is kind of off here.
Things start to turn sinister when Melinda’s lovers turned up dead one by one. Perhaps the murderer is Vic who finally broke down and snaps since he even made a dark joke about killing her lover although Vic remains a credible neighbour in the close-knit community. Or perhaps Melinda is a psychotic lover. Deep Water raises a lot of questions throughout but fails to answer any of them.
Lye treats the first half of his movie as if it’s his routine morning walk. Nothing substantial happened even after an hour. There’s no concrete evidence to show the couple is deeply in love or in an open relationship in the first place. Melinda often teases Vic, attempts a half-baked blowjob in the car and seemingly disinterested in her role as a mother and wife. Vic on the other hand prefer to stare intensely as his wife constantly flirts with other men and plays with his pet snails instead of ahem, the young, sexy Melinda.
It seems like no one cares or knows what to do with the Patricia Highsmith novel that they have to clumsily introduce a Hollywood screenwriter character (who is actually a pulp writer in the original material), Don Wilson (Tracy Letts) into the flimsy plotting before haphazardly disposing him as he begins to suspect Vic of foul play.
Deep Water falls short in every aspect which explains the long-delayed release. It fails miserably both as a twisted erotic thriller and a lesson on morality. While much madness is teased in the end, nothing conclusive happened and the movie ended on an abrupt note. It’s a shame that the only thing you remember of Deep Water is Affleck and Armas’ brief romantic fling after shooting.
Do check out David Fincher’s Gone Girl which coincidentally also starring Affleck instead. This is interestingly more of an erotic psychological thriller.
Review by Linus Tee