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The mysterious, beautiful woman has always been a cinematic fixture. In Complete Unknown, Rachel Weisz takes on the role, and while she is a compelling performer, the film is ultimately a Hitchcock-inspired thriller without too many real thrills.

We first see her character, Alice, in a number of different guises: as a hippie, a doctor, and most intriguingly, a magician’s assistant. She later shows up at a dinner party as the date of one of the coworkers of Michael Shannon’s Tom. Tom just knows that he knows her, somehow, but Alicia denies any connection. The plot then thickens as she reveals her multifaceted identities to him — but never quite enough. “I could be anyone I wanted, and I could do it again and again,” she says, in one of many bits of intriguing but too-expository dialogue.

The film would benefit from more exploration of Alice’s past personas. We see promising bits and pieces that allow Weisz to channel a few different versions of femininity. The interplay between Weisz and Shannon is prickly: The two help an injured woman (Kathy Bates) and Alice goads Tom into pretending he is a doctor. Tom never goes quite as far as Alice – she represents a strange life that seems in complete opposition to his unfulfilling job.

At one point Alice offers this bit of philosophizing: “When everyone thinks they know who you are, you’re trapped.” It’s true, and while Alice’s enigmatic quality is appealing, the movie she’s in, which never truly grabs us with eroticism or fear, might not be unknowable enough. The film has potential for weirdness, but stays far too tame.

Complete Unknown
Directed by Joshua Marston
Amazon Studios and IFC Films
Opens August 26, IFC Center and Lincoln Plaza

SOURCE: villagevoice.com

Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz made their joint Broadway debut playing a married couple in Betrayal on Tuesday. 

But thankfully their real life marriage doesn’t follow the same pattern as that of the protagonists of Harold Pinter’s 1978 play, which is being staged at the Ethel Barrymore Theater.

The production uses reverse chronology to examine the dynamics of a seven-year clandestine relationship of the wife (Weisz) of a London publisher (Craig) with his best friend and literary agent (Rafe Spall), who is also married.

And after months of rehearsals, both Daniel and Rachel had proud smiles on their faces as they took their closing bow after their first performance was over.

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By Barry Paris / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The curtain rises on Hester’s methodical preparations, to the exquisite strains of Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto: She closes the curtains in her dingy London flat, stuffs a towel under the door, puts a note on the mantelpiece, swallows some pills, inserts coins in the gas meter, turns on the valve, lies down and drifts off as it hisses. …

There will be a rude awakening — more than one, actually — in this somber adaptation of Terence Rattigan’s “The Deep Blue Sea,” a play literally and figuratively dated to England’s postwar doldrums of 1950. Its heroine is Hester (Rachel Weisz), attractive young wife of an older gentleman-judge, Sir William Collyer (Simon Russell Beale). The story plays out in sporadic flashbacks: One night in a raucous pub, she meets dashing Freddie (Tom Hiddleston), an RAF pilot still obsessed by the war.

Freddie is stuck in his heroics of the ’40s. She’s stuck in a sexless marriage, with her mother-in-law from hell (a fabulous monster, played by Barbara Jefford). They spar nastily at dinner. “I’m sure Hester didn’t mean to be impolite,” Sir William apologizes to mum.

We’re sure she did.

In any case, William is stunned when she leaves their life of luxury to move in with fickle, faithless Freddie, who awakens her sexuality but can’t give her the love or stability that William did — and that she didn’t want.

Like most of Rattigan’s dramas (“The Winslow Boy,” “The Browning Version”) “The Deep Blue Sea” (previously filmed in 1955 with Vivien Leigh) is upper-middle-class based, full of understated and misunderstood emotions. He was more of an Annoyed than an Angry Young Man of his generation — not my favorite playwright. But he gave us several wonderful screen adaptations of his plays, namely “Separate Tables” (1958), with David Niven’s Oscar-winning performance, and the deliciously oddball “Prince and the Showgirl” (1957) starring that deliciously odd couple of Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe. Plus the great-fun original script of “Yellow Rolls-Royce” (1964).

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By Clint O’Connor, The Plain Dealer 

“The Deep Blue Sea” should have been much better than it is. It features the wonderful Rachel Weisz as a married woman tormented over her affections for her lover, played by the terrific Tom Hiddleston. It’s smart and subtle and nicely evokes its era of postwar Britain.

But ultimately, it does not satisfy. We never quite crack the code of these characters, and their emotional arcs are left floating on the surface, despite the title.

The film is based on the play by Terence Rattigan. Director Terence Davies (“The House of Mirth”) eliminated a lot of superfluous characters and stripped down the story to Hester and her two men, but mostly Hester.

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By Sally M. Hill / movie reviews / Your Houston News

Director Terence Davies’ “The Deep Blue Sea” is in no way related to Renny Harlin’s “Deep Blue Sea.” Harlin’s “Sea” is about mutant, killer sharks.

Davies’ is an atmospheric, richly detailed tale of woman who follows her heart even as it leads her to doom. And unlike Harlin’s silly film, this is a moving and serious movie, which is perfectly acted, especially by Rachel Weisz. She’s worthy of an Oscar nomination.

Davies (“The Long Day Closes,” “The House of Mirth”) adapted the screenplay from Terence Rattigan’s play, which premiered in 1952 in London. It was made into a movie starring Vivian Leigh in ’55. I did not know it was from a play while watching, but I figured it might be, partially because it’s a bit stagey, but mainly because the dialogue is terrific. You don’t hear these kinds of conversations in movies much these days unless the source material is from a play or fine literature.

With a movie as deliberately paced as “Sea,” there’re many opportunities to pay attention to all the meticulous details, the floral wallpaper, the lamps, the clothes, the still war-scarred streets of London and most of the music is perfect, although the loud strumming of Samuel Barber’s “Concerto for Violin” is a bit much. What I will always remember most about “Sea,” besides Weisz’s terrific acting, are the scenes of people singing “You Belong To Me” (a great song) in a pub and “Molly Malone” in a subway station during the war.

My main problem with “Sea” is that it’s meant to be heartbreaking, but I just found it interesting … the things people do for love. If you want heartbreaking see “The Kid with a Bike.” “Sea” takes place in London “around 1950.” The around is a clue that there will be many flashbacks, even though all the main action takes place in a day. Davies is not a fan of linear story telling.

Weisz (“The Mummy,” best supporting Oscar winner for “The Constant Gardner”) plays Hester Collyer, a woman who is distraught that her lover doesn’t return her all consuming affection. She has left her proper, older husband (Simon Russell Beale), a judge, for dashing former Royal Air Force pilot Freddie Page, played extremely well by Tom Hiddleston (“Thor,” “Midnight in Paris,” “War Horse”). Freddie may be more exciting than her husband, but he’s a shallow alcoholic whose best days were during the war.

Hester just can’t seem to help herself as she throws away her boring, but safe and comfortable life for one of passions that can’t be matched. For her, Freddie is, “The whole of life … and death.” As the judge’s insufferable mother states, “Beware of passion it always leads to something ugly.” For Hester, this is true as she is suicidal, which just makes Freddie angry, while her husband becomes sympathetic to her plight.

Love and passion may be timeless, but the movie, like the play, is very much of a time. In the 50s it was scandalous for a vicar’s daughter to leave a caring, decent husband … just because she wanted to follow her heart. She’s between the devil and the deep blue sea, which does she pick?