The Deep Blue Sea
Cast: Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, Simon Russell Beale
Director: Terence Davies
Somewhere in 1950s London, a quiet haze of desperation is setting in.
In a repressed world just out of the Second World War and in a flat in a boarding house, Hester Collyer (Weisz) is on the edge of desperation. As she puts a towel under the door to block it and turns the gas fire on full, it's clear what she intends to do.
But her suicide attempt is unsuccessful and suddenly through a series of flashbacks and current events, the ramifications of what she's tried to do and what's led her to that point are gradually revealed.
The Deep Blue Sea is a terrifically stifled and repressed film - the whole thing reeks of claustrophobia and desperation as flashbacks reveal the reasons for Hester's despair. Trapped in a loveless marriage to a British High Court Judge (Simon Russell Beale) who adores her but is older and clearly aware this is a society marriage, it's obvious that Hester will fall for fly boy Freddie (a brilliant Hiddleston) and find her passion reignited.
However, it's a tragedy that the passion cools for Hester and Freddie because of his post traumatic stress disorder and his (understandable) comfort in living in the past.
As the threads start to tie together, you begin to realise that there's only really been two actors on screen for the duration of this and that the intensity of their performance is intoxicating. Hiddleston is initially all "chocks away" and flyboy bravado, but the bitter frustrations of a repressed age from long ago push his performance more into the slightly monstrous whilst still managing to keep you engaged.
Rachel Weisz is very good as Hester; every frustration and pain is etched on her face as she tackles the unthinkable and the melodrama unfolds through a series of flashbacks. Sure, you can argue that this film reflects its 1952 play origins but it takes a talented cast to make the script rise up; throw in an occasionally over the top violin score at key moments and this adds to the melodramatic feel of the whole thing.
Bathed in gloriously repressed English stiff upper lip sensibility and drab browns and greys of the era, when Freddie boils over, it's a seething mass of anger and a frightening level of frustration for Hester, who's trapped between two worlds and soaked in depression.
The Deep Blue Sea isn't exactly a joyous film which will leave you feeling a fuzzy after glow as it ends; but with some great performances from Weisz and Hiddleston, it becomes the kind of film that gets under your skin.