Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Deep Blue Sea

Terence Davies' adaptation of Terence Rattigan's 1955 play is a cross between a straight-ahead adaption of the final day of a doomed love affair in post-war London, and a more dreamlike evocation of that play. I greatly preferred the more straight-ahead portions, when the dialogue, and particularly the stunning performances of Rachel Weisz (swoon), Tom Hiddleston (swoon), and Simon Russell Beale, take over. Weisz, in particular, is perfection as a woman who has been driven mad by an all-consuming, obsessive love. What is particularly heartbreaking is how aware she is of what she's become. She's not self-deluded. She is all too aware that she loves a man more than he loves her, and she is doing everything she can to keep it alive, just for a short period of time.

This is not a pleasant film to watch. In some ways, it's too well done in presenting the existential grief of a love not returned. I will probably be the only person to compare this film to the Vince Vaughn/Jennifer Aniston "comedy" The Breakup, but there was a similarity: Why do we want to watch the end of relationship unfold? Haven't we all done that in real life? But I think Davies was shooting at bigger game. There's a sense of hope in the end (spoiler alert) when Hester supposedly survives, and Davies cuts to the still-bombed building next to where she lives. She is London, still staggering from the war, but not quite suicidal anymore. A powerful film. Maybe I'll check out the Vivien Leigh version from 1955.

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