Deep Water (2022)

“If I did kill someone, do you know what they would do to me? They would put me in prison for the rest of my life.”

Being a tv and film fan and appreciator the past couple of years has become an embarrassment of riches. First world problems, some might say. With theaters mostly shut down and operating at a limited capacity or with strict requirements, fans of the movie-going experience are remaining trepidatious about returning in full force to see the A-list stars on the big screen. The streaming services have thrived off the convenience of watching movies at home, on the couch in safety where no sickness can penetrate through the tv screen. Countless films have been dumped on to the variety of services never to be remembered once played through. With A-list names like Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas leading the way, Deep Water is sure to be forgotten in the frenzy that is the post-pandemic era.

Directed by Adrian Lyne, known for Flashdance, Indecent Proposal, 9 ½ weeks & Fatal Attraction among others, the acclaimed director hasn’t been behind the camera in 20 years. That’s a lifetime ago as far as entertainment goes. Known for directing erotic, dramatic thrillers, the genre has dried up faster than a desert with an effort added here and there. And after the acquisition of Fox by Disney, where else but Hulu could this film go for some sort of shelf life?

Waiting for anything significant to happen in Deep Water is a lot to ask for, apparently. Labeled as an erotic psychological thriller, Deep Water is not erotic, nor thrilling Out of a 115-minute runtime, Lyne takes a promising slow burning passion and drags it into a lifetime of regret. More of a chore to get through than a compelling thriller with a missed opportunity to capture any semblance of chemistry between the two leads. Now with the fallout of Affleck and Armas’ relationship off screen, the two on screen doesn’t translate to their former relationship. 

Affleck plays a familiar role in Vic Van Allen. A detached and disinterested husband married to a promiscuous wife Melinda (Ana de Armas) who give off a façade of a happily married couple and family with their daughter Trixie (Grace Jenkins). Everything Vic and Melinda do is for their daughter – it’s easily the best relationship in the story. But the reality is the two would rather have an open marriage where Melinda can do as she pleases while Vic stands in the corner surrounded by friends looking utterly miserable than get divorced. With every passing scene Vic’s jealousy grows.

We’ve seen the dead stare into oblivion from Affleck before in David Fincher’s Gone Girl alongside Rosamund Pike – another psychotic relationship that involves head games, a murder mystery, and thrilling escapades by both parties. Affleck brings the same level of energy to Deep Water that he does to Gone Girl. His emotionless fugue state way of handling tough conversations is cut with sarcasm and deflection that only makes things worse. Fincher executes a similar story mostly due to a better script.

Sam Levinson who created the worldwide phenomena Euphoria on HBO Max co-wrote the screenplay alongside Zach Helm. Clearly, the tone and atmosphere of Deep Water is all over the place. Emotionless, monotone, and shallow represent all of Vic’s moods and by extension us as the viewer consuming this relationship. Affleck’s performance saves the ship from sinking entirely but it’s one-man scooping buckets of water out while the hole is growing steadily larger by the minute. Levinson’s influence and stylistic melancholy writing stands out comparatively to what the film is marketed as. Based on the novel of the same name by author Patricia Highsmith, Deep Water feels like the backup player to an all-star after tearing an Achilles and is sidelined for the rest of the season. 

Whether it’s happening in his head or not, Lyne only scratches the surface with the psychological aspect. The mind can go to the darkest places and Vic gets off on the first floor.

Ana de Armas on the other hand along with the supporting cast is full of life, seduction, and energy. Armas is the main attraction – the way she stares at Vic from across the room while also having her arms wrapped around another man is dangerous. It’s as if the two share a secret yet everyone in their friend group know of the arrangement in place to avoid divorce. The two couldn’t be more opposite from one another. Lyne presents his film through the perspective of both characters but it’s always one sided. With the number of men that include Joel Dash (Brendan C. Miller), Tony Cameron (Finn Wittrock) and Charlie De Lisle (Jacob Elordi) I get why Vic would act out. It makes sense, to a degree. 

Ultimately, whats missing from the Levinson and Helm script is a sense of humanity in the characters. No one except Lil Rel Howey feels like a real person. Just as Vic and Melinda are detached from their marriage, I was detached from minute 1 to minute 115. 

Written By: Sam Levinson & Zach Helm

Directed By: Adrian Lyne

Music By: Marco Beltrami

Cinematography: Eigil Byrld

Starring: Ben Affleck, Ana de Armas, Jacob Elordi, Lil Rel Howery, Tracy Letts, Grace Jenkins, Kristen Connolly

Where to Watch: Hulu

Release Date: March 18, 2022

Running Time: 2 Hours 33 Minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 36%

My Score: 1 out of 5

Based On: Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith

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