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?