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The Deep Blue Sea | The Clapper Bored

The Deep Blue Sea

Turning plays into films is a notoriously tricky business. Either they end up being riotously camp (like Chicago or, for that matter, any other stage musical) or frustratingly stagey (like Nicholas Hytner’s otherwise excellent adaptation of The History Boys). With The Deep Blue Sea living legend Terence Davies translates Terence Rattigan’s stage play into a film that falls into neither of these two camps but, regrettably, falls instead into a difficult crack in the middle. It’s a film that weighed down by its somber tone and meandering pacing, even if it’s sometimes stunning composition saves it.

Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston play the runaway couple, swept up in a turbulent love affair that is never going to end well. An early indicator of this trouble is the opening scene in which Weisz’s character attempts suicide. The whole tone of the film is dictated by this opening, as the camera slowly strolls around the period apartment until Hester collapses by the unlit gas fire. All that takes about ten minutes and it’s this level of, some would call it detail, lingering that slows the film down to an utter crawl. It’s all very worthwhile filmmaking but if it’s presented at a pace that makes Terrence Malick look like he tears through the onscreen minutes then, well, it just isn’t fast enough.

There’s plenty to enjoy however. The three leads are excellent and, for my money, there are few better actors about than Simon Russell Beale. Recently seen for about twelve seconds in My Week With Marilyn here he steals scene after scene as the judge Hester leaves for the dashing RAF pilot. Weisz and Hiddleston also do everything they can to make us care about their, frankly unsympathetic, characters but it’s difficult to invest much in their relationship when it’s so obviously doomed. By the time the credits roll (it’ll feel like a small lifetime) you’ll have seen a strangely affecting piece of cinema let down by the same lack of passion that fails its central relationships.

A curiously ponderous piece of period cinema. The production is exquisite but all too often the action dries up completely, as did my ability to care.

Title: The Deep Blue Sea
Director: Terence Davies
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, Simon Russell Beale.
Running Time: A Small Eternity (about 100 mins...)
Certificate: 15

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