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A mythic memory play in the vein of The Wicker Man, Deeply is the story of a traumatized teenager, Claire McKay, who is brought to the Island of her ancestors in the hopes of she will recover from the sudden death of her first love. Claire encounters an eccentric writer, Celia, who tells her the story of another grief-stricken teenager, Silly, and the curse which has haunted the Island since the days of the Vikings. As Celia recounts the story of Silly and her great loss, a story that is yet without an ending, Claire relives her own trauma and undergoes a catharsis which sets her spirit free, healed of the grief and horror. As Celia said, a good story does indeed have the power to heal. But the ending to Celia's story has still to be written... Written by
Genevieve Kierans, Publicist
Like all good faerie-tales, Deeply's story is naturally predictable-- to avoid disappointment, focus on the quality of the telling, not the originality of the tale. The plot and literary devices are carbon copies of James Cameron's Titanic, while the cinematography is a slightly less artistic version of The Shipping News. Other commenters provide a more detailed synopsis, so I will cut straight to my somewhat unique perspective.
I come from an island called "the rock" off the coast of Nova Scotia that once boasted the world's best fishing-- until the fishery dried up a few decades ago. So, this tale hit home from the outset. As it so happens, my Newfoundland is the same island that inspired The Shipping News, the same island that received the real Titanic's distress calls, and the same island that inspired another recent shipwreck movie, The Perfect Storm. It is also the only island in North America proven to have been visited by Vikings. Although Deeply's island is not specifically named, it is large enough to host several outports and to entice a military base or two, and was once visited by Vikings who cast a myserious curse on the island. The island's leader is strikingly reminiscent of Joey Smallwood, but I digress.
Anyone who has lost someone close to them at a young age will love this movie no matter what, as will many who fear losing someone they love. Although manly men like me don't admit to crying, I will confirm that my room became extremely humid and caused steady streams of condensation to roll down me cheeks ;-). The storytelling was so compelling that I am willing to forgive the movie's technical gaffs, but as one close to the culture, I would be wrong not to point out the obvious problems.
Before mentioning the negatives, I must say Lynn Redgrave gives a stellar performance, every bit as good as Dame Judy Dench in The Shipping News. While the other main actors emote well, they don't believably deliver the accents or mannerisms of their characters. The minor cast does excellent in contrast, leading me to wonder if Kirsten Dunst would have fared better using her normal voice instead of butchering the marittime lilt into a goofy patchwork of Ozarkian hickese and fake Texan drawl. Her character's mother was supposedly a mainlander, so another director might have considered reducing the distraction of a bad accent by allowing Dunst to speak naturally while directing Redgrave to mimic Dunst's accent, blaming the difference on the mother's influence. Of course, that is merely a lesson for future directors, as the damage is already done.
Yet, in spite of Dunst's difficulty melding with the culture, she gives a wonderful overall performance because the culture was not by any means the most important aspect of her character. Dunst's character, Silly, is a strong-spirited girl turned troubled teen, a lifelong outsider resulting not only from the paranoia of adolescence but also from a small-town superstition concerning the island's Viking curse. The older Cecilia is one so haunted by her forbidden lover's tragic death that she withdraws and cannot bring herself to love again. As Redgrave's Cecilia, she writes her own story in an apparent effort to help other young girls achieve catharsis, but when her manuscript is rejected, fate brings her the perfect audience, through whom she finally elicits the solace that eluded her long years of solitude.
Deeply's celtic music is modern marittime fare, not specific to any culture, but highly influenced by the scores of the aforementioned Titanic and The Shipping News. The scenes with folk music resort to some of my favorite old Irish standbies rather than exploring the more colorful folk music specific to Nova Scotia or Newfoundland-- however, I naturally view this as a missed opportunity to showcase the more distinctive elements of Canadian culture-- there were many historical scenes that would have been vastly enriched by a few verses of "I'se the B'y", "Feller from Fortune, Revised", "As I Roved Out" or at least a few jigs and reels instead of the more modernized Enya-esque instrumentals that, although beautiful, would have been more effective if used to distinguish the modern elements of the film from the historical.
In sum, a few technical gaffes and cultural flaws sadly distract from an otherwise beautiful retelling of a classic tragic love story foreshadowed in the ambiguously ironic name of the film's ill-fated sailboat, Fate's Fortune. I personally prefer Deeply's plot and storyline to the movies it copies, Titanic and The Shipping News, because it is refreshingly innocent without losing the weight of its dark edge. I find most of the characters in Deeply more compelling than their counterparts in Titanic and The Shipping News, but I wish some of the acting and technical delivery had a depth more worthy of the movie's title. Perhaps my negativity is no more than hypersensitivity-- I felt so in tune with the movie that I wanted it to be perfect-- obviously an unreasonable expectation.
If you hate chick flicks and demand comedic action-adventures, don't torture yourself with this one. However, if you've ever loved and lost, especially at a young age, you will fall Deeply in love with this movie. Even without a predisposition to catharsis, you will probably find it Deeply compelling, in spite of its minor flaws. If this movie inspires you CFAs to visit to Nova Scotia, a tip: come in the summer, get your ferry tickets well in advance and also plan to spend several days exploring Newfoundland. If you're an Anne of Green Gables fan, you'll want to see Prince Edward Island, too.
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