It’s been twenty years since director Adrian Lyne last helmed a film with 2002’s Unfaithful where a couple’s marriage goes dangerously awry when the wife indulges in an adulterous fling. But he also directed Indecent Proposal where a couple’s marriage goes dangerously awry when the wife indulges in an adulterous fling (after a billionaire offers a $1m to the couple for a one night stand with his wife). And let’s not forget when of course he hit box office gold with Fatal Attraction where a couple’s marriage goes dangerously awry when the husband indulges in an adulterous fling with an unhinged woman. But his latest film Deep Water is different tackling as it does the existential angst of the loneliness of the long distance swimmer …….no of course it isn’t, as might be expected a couple’s marriage goes dangerously awry when the wife indulges in an adulterous fling.
Lyne again returns to the sexual theme of infidelity and its consequences. Here it is Vic Allan (Ben Affleck) a high earner living in a luxurious house with his wife Melinda (Ana de Armas) and their little girl Trixie. That their daughter looks like neither of them would prompt the first query from the audience but instead this is a marriage in crisis seemingly deliberately accelerated by Melinda who quite openly flirts with any handsome young man who catches her eye and in this first instance it is Joel (Brendan Miller) looking like the stoner Brad Pitt played in True Romance and with the same puzzled expression as Callum Best looking in the men’s toilet mirror in The National Portrait Gallery and unsure whether he’s back in the museum or not.
Melinda openly flirts and makes out with him at a high end party they’ve all gone to – you know its high end because there’s not a bowl of twiglets anywhere. There’s almost bound to be trouble afoot but Joel picks up none of the signals in fact the only thing he’s likely to be pick up is an STD from the wilfully promiscuous Melinda and its only when Vic implies a threat to Joel that he starts to worry for his own safety and perhaps rightly so as Vic is suspected to have been involved in the mysterious disappearance and presumed death of another man who also seemed to have been adulterously involved with his wife.
Still waters run deep and suggests that of Vic, a remarkably calm and controlled person who seemingly calmly watches his wife’s behaviour has hidden depths presumably of rage and revenge when his wife behaves so antagonistically in front of him.
Based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel Deep Water posits the theory that Melinda is bored with Vic and his lack of passion and yet seems to have drawn no connection with his dullness and his hobby of keeping snails. Presumably she also the sort of person who lived next door to Fred West and was persuaded that his hobby of midnight patio construction was perfectly normal behaviour. As a couple they seem poles apart he’s cold and dispassionate whereas she is a party girl who can (and does) have any man she wants and it’s this that is at the core of the film as she tries to get him to prove his passion for her whereas in real terms the only thing she likely to provoke is a divorce petition.
Affleck is decent enough in a restrained performance and Ana De Armas looks stunning and wholly believable as the woman who could have any man she wants and it plays a little like an older version of her role in ‘Knock, Knock’ opposite Keanu Reeves. Deep Water has Adrian Lyne return to the psycho sexual genre he’s made his own and he’s lost nothing of his ability to dissect relationships albeit with less than credible scenarios that might be the topic of conversation of North London dinner parties but to the rest of us don’t bear much scrutiny.
Watch the Deep Water trailer HERE