A remake of the 1955 classic film directed by Anatole Litvak and starring Vivien Leigh, The Deep Blue Sea (2011) deals with the story of a married woman who gets caught in a self-destructive love affair with another man. Written originally in the form of a play in 1952, by Terence Rattigan, and inspired by the writer’s feelings caused by an ex-lover’s suicide, the play was adapted again for the screen, this time by Terrence Davies, who also directs the remake, with Rachel Weisz in the lead.
Hester Page (played by Rachel Weisz) attempts to kill herself, but her plan is ruined by her neighbours, who run to her rescue. From then on, a series of flashbacks begin, which reveal that Hester, still technically married to British judge Sir William Collyer (played by Simon Russell Beale), has left her husband and is gradually getting lost in a mad love affair with pilot Freddie Page (portrayed by Tom Hiddleston). After the honeymoon period is over, however, Hester finds that she has lost Freddie’s attention, who chooses to go out and have a good time with his friends, rather than spend time with her.
A film that deals with the problem of loving a person too much, to the extent that one is willing to sacrifice reputation and dignity, The Deep Blue Sea is a period piece that follows Hester’s fall from grace. Rachel Weisz is excellent in the lead, achieving the perfect balance between calmness, fragility and out of control desperation. The actress’ performance convincingly captures both sides of the character, and delivers a protagonist with depth, flaws, obsessions, insecurities and fears.
Terrence Davies’ direction is soft-textured and smooth, playing as always with lights and shadows and delivering a film that would run the risk of looking monotonous if it didn’t carry so much drama and quiet action. But on the contrary, Davies’ filming style succeeds in very efficiently evoking the 1950s atmosphere, in every aspect, from sets to clothes, and manages to convey a story so period-perfect and believable, that keeps its audience gripped from beginning to end.
The screenplay is to a great extent faithful to Rattigan’s original play, the characters are intriguing and the dialogue powerful and gripping. Skilfully written and developed, The Deep Blue Sea is a difficult film with a complex story, and meanings that are very successfully communicated. More than one viewing of the movie will certainly allow one to appreciate its depth as well as its beautiful camera work, with long shots that allow the cast – especially Rachel Weisz – to showcase their strong acting skills.