Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Download Ex Machina
Before the DVD release on 8th June
Subscribe To Empire
Sign up now and save 44%
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Rachel Weisz
Simon Russell Beale
Tom Hiddleston.
Directors
Terence Davies.
Screenwriters
Terence Davies.
Running Time
98 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Queen And Country
4 Star Empire Rating
Black Souls
4 Star Empire Rating
Station To Station
4 Star Empire Rating
She’s Funny That Way
2 Star Empire Rating
Accidental Love
1 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Look Of Silence
5 Star Empire Rating
Mad Max: Fury Road
5 Star Empire Rating
Still Alice
5 Star Empire Rating
Les Miserables
5 Star Empire Rating
Duke Of Burgundy, The
5 Star Empire Rating

The Deep Blue Sea
The return of a maestro


submit to reddit


Plot
The early 1950s. Hester (Weisz) has left her wealthy, older husband (Beale) to live with a younger man, a World War II fighter pilot (Hiddleston), in a rundown boarding house. Fearing her new partner is tiring of her, Hester attempts suicide.


Review
The Deep Blue Sea
Browse more images »
At 66, Terence Davies is in the unenviable position of being a national treasure. To the general public he is largely unknown, to the British film industry he is a genius whose work they applaud but would never dream of bankrolling. Between these two camps, he has a following of fans and critics who have only five films, three shorts and a documentary to savour. It has been 11 years since his last feature — an adaptation of Edith Wharton’s 1905 novel House Of Mirth — and the pressure on him to deliver a masterpiece is almost palpable.

So, like the heroine of his latest film, a very loose adaptation of Terence Rattigan’s 1952 play, Davies is caught, too, between the devil and the deep blue sea: his work is not mainstream, but he doesn’t quite have the auteur’s free pass yet — since he is less than prolific, the bigger picture may not be revealed for some years. Which is a shame, since this film, having already received critical brickbats after its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, is certainly one of his stronger pieces. Though not as powerful as Distant Voices, Still Lives, or as lyrical as The Long Day Closes, this is still a mesmeric, haunting and often very beautiful study of isolation.

Why the brickbats? Firstly, Davies frequently abandons Rattigan’s text, which is always a bugbear in literary adaptations. But the most obvious reason is that Davies has a style all of his own, an unfamiliar, wilfully hermetic style that feels unsullied by the excesses of modern filmmaking. Indeed, modern is the last word to describe Terence Davies, and his films are all the better for it. No-one, with the possible exception of American avant-garde director Kenneth Anger, has ever kept one foot in the past without drifting into nostalgia: in Davies’ films, the past, to contradict novelist L. P. Hartley, is not another country.

The opening scene, as Hester (Rachel Weisz) tries to take her own life, will be especially strange to some. Without dialogue, Davies constructs an oblique mosaic of half-remembered flashbacks as Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto (which, in this setting, is practically pop music) blasts out. It’s a challenging start, but the film does quickly bed down; Hester is found by the landlady and makes an embarrassed recovery, facing first her angry ex-husband (Simon Russell Beale), then her even more furious lover (Tom Hiddleston). But the fascinating point about Davies’ film is that he is surprisingly sympathetic to all three of his characters. He does not indulge his needy heroine, and rather than being simply a film about one woman’s dissatisfaction, it becomes a film about everyone’s dissatisfaction.

Weisz is outstanding in a role that plays to all her strengths, while, by contrast, RSC stage veteran Beale is disappointingly low-key as her rejected husband. The biggest revelation, however, has to be Hiddleston as Hester’s lover, the boyish Freddie. In such high company, Freddie could easily be just a third wheel. Hiddleston, though, finds Freddie’s mettle, and it makes the film soar. As much as Davies’ films ever were, The Deep Blue Sea becomes a perceptive and affecting film about post-War Britain, especially the way, that we take for granted now, in which individuals fought to find themselves and shed the shackles of class.


Verdict
This isn’t traditional heritage cinema and it may not tickle the same taste buds that devoured Tinker Tailor or The King’s Speech. It does, however, represent the unique vision of an artist who needs to be met halfway, and in an age of hubbub, its patient elegance is a rare thing we should nurture.


Reviewed by Damon Wise

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Classic Feature: The Change-Up
High-concept interview where Jason becomes Ryan and vice versa. Hilarity ensues

A Guide To Rick Baker: Monster Maker
Bidding farewell to a visual effects legend

Podcast #162: Hugh Laurie
Is there a doctor in the house?

Stoical Supermen: 10 Quiet Heroes That Get Stuff Done
Silent but deadly...

Ana Lily Amirpour On A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
'There's nothing sexier than a vampire...'

12 Of The Weirdest Things Jean-Claude Van Damme Has Done On Camera
Outside of his movies, that is...

Spooks: An Oral History
Cast and crew on the spy smash

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Empire print magazine

Delivered to your door – with exclusive subscriber only covers each month!

Subscribe and save 44%

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Empire digital magazine

Exclusive and enhanced content – get instant access via your iPad or Android device

Subscribe and save 44%

Subscribe now and save up to 67%
Print, Digital & Package options available Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)