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A remote fishing village located off the coast of Canada is the setting for
this tale of a close-knit community of people who make their living from the
sea, while abiding the customs and superstitions that have been handed down
from one generation to the next for hundreds of years. `Deeply,' written
and directed by Sheri Elwood, is a story of love and survival, and of what
it sometimes takes just to get on with life; but more than that, it's about
a dark secret that has been a part of this village since before remembrance,
and the effects of a collective belief in something few care to contemplate
and even fewer dare to speak of openly, even in a contemporary, modern world
in which such things no longer exist-- and yet still do.
When her teenage daughter, Claire (Julia Brendler), cannot escape the memories of a tragic accident, Fiona McKay (Alberta Watson) takes her to the island and the village that was her own home as a child. Fiona hopes the change will enable Claire to put all that has happened behind her. Claire's depression continues, however, and she becomes increasingly withdrawn and uncommunicative, even with her mother, who is desperately trying to reach out and help her.
Things begin to change, however, when Claire finds a manuscript on the beach that's been rejected and returned by the publisher, and she delivers it to the owner, a reclusive writer named Celia (Lynn Redgrave), a long time resident of the island who lives alone in a small house at the edge of the sea. Initially their relationship is tentative, but gradually Claire finds herself drawn to Celia, who agrees to tell Claire the story contained in the manuscript; and it's a story in which Claire finds a parallel to her own life-- and it just may prove to be the catharsis that will enable Claire to move on with her life.
Writer/director Elwood uses the story-within-a-story technique nicely to present her tale, which contains elements that make it something of a cross between `The Secret of Roan Inish' and `The Wicker Man.' It's beautifully filmed (cinematography by Sebastian Edschmid), and the transitions between the present and the depiction of Celia's story are executed quite well. The story itself, though, while engaging to a point, is wrapped in a fairly obvious mystery, which in retrospect may have been Elwood's intent, as she creates the dots but leaves it up to the viewer to connect them. It's effective in that it invites involvement on any number of levels, while leaving it up to the individual to decide upon one and to what extent they want to take it. Celia's story, which involves a young girl named Silly (Kirsten Dunst) is interesting, but the real appeal of the film is rooted in Claire's gradual awareness of her deep connection to Silly, and how the story subsequently affects her. And it's in the telling of Claire's story that Elwood's work shines the brightest, as that is where she manages somewhat to connect emotionally with her audience.
One of the best young actors in the business, Kirsten Dunst is to be commended for taking on a role that is quite a departure for her (with the exception of her portrayal of Marion Davies in the more recent `The Cat's Meow,' in which she was terrific). Dunst has a charismatic screen presence and talent to match, which has served her so well in films like `The Virgin Suicides' and the aforementioned `The Cat's Meow,' and it's obvious that she put a great deal of effort into her portrayal of Silly in this film; and though it's a decent job, she somehow never manages to fully realize the character, and though she has her moments, Silly is never entirely convincing. Part of the blame has to fall on Elwood, of course, who should have taken measures to correct the most obvious flaw in Dunst's performance, which is the inconsistency of the accent she affects. Part of the time her manner of speech most resembles Lux Lisbon, while at other times she sounds more like Ma Kettle's daughter. It is, perhaps, a minor flaw in an otherwise solid performance, but it's enough to prevent Dunst from `finding' the character, and it is so distracting that it diminishes the effectiveness of her portrayal, and in turn the credibility of the film. And there are a couple of scenes in which Silly smokes a pipe that simply do not work at all. Still, you have to admire Dunst for wanting to expand her repertoire and explore new territory; many actors who have achieved a similar level of success lack the courage to challenge themselves artistically as Dunst has done here, and it's an attribute that will continue to set her apart from the dime-a-dozen actors who flow through the business without making so much as a dent.
As Claire, Julia Brendler gives a performance that is honest and affecting, and as much as the story itself, it's what establishes her as the focus of the film. She conveys emotions that transcend the typical teen angst, and it makes her situation real and believable. Her portrayal of Claire is sensitive and (with Elwood's help, of course) is developed with great care, which is what makes it so effective. The film, in fact, would have benefited had Claire's part been expanded, perhaps with more interaction between her and Celia. As presented, however, it is definitely the strength of the film.
Lynn Redgrave does a good job as Celia, though she isn't afforded enough screen time to fully develop her character with any nuance; but it is a convincing performance. Interestingly enough, this was filmed the same year her sister, Vanessa, played a similar role, that of a reclusive old woman living by the sea, in `A Rumor of Angels.' A good film, but nothing special, `Deeply' is worth a look; just don't expect to be too emotionally engaged by it. 6/10.
A true story tale, woven as the tales of two curses are gradually untwined.
In one story a modern girl lands on a Nova Scotia fishing island, bitter
grieving. Lynn Redgrave gives a lovely performance playing a crusty older
lady telling this girl the other tale, about a girl her same age 50 years
earlier on the same island. Two unknown actresses give deeply felt though
not perfect performances as the two teenage girls.
The film is sometimes slow, sometimes awkward, and sometimes cliched, but the telling of the tales overrides the imperfections, and my husband and I were drawn into the telling, the gorgeous scenes of the island, and the mystery of the tales. We saw this on Dutch TV, which we get by satellite, and which shows many wonderful independent films that don't make the mainstream, but are so much better than the ordinary fare.
I just saw this movie as part of the Atlantic Film Festival and it truely blew me away. The wonderful story cast a spell on me that I could not evade even after the movie. This beautifully filmed movie makes me wish that Hollywood would really go on strike next year. Maybe then movies like this would find their way to more screens.
A young girl comes with her mother to her ancestral home on an island off the coast of Nova Scotia to escape the sudden death of her first love. She withdraws from the world around her until she crosses paths with an old hermit-like lady who tells her a tale of a great fishing village, an age-old viking curse and a lovelorn couple that faces Shakespearian tragedies. Parallels between her life and the tale open up her heart so she can mourn her love.Beautifully filmed this bittersweet lovestory is a bit of a tearjerker and ends a bit sourly. Good direction and heartfelt acting are abundant but the story is a bit of a downer. 8/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There's no question that the depiction of the culture is rich, the
cinematography generally excellent and the acting more or less sound.
While I agree with other comments about the vagaries of Dunst's accent
and how nice it would have been to see more authentic and less
Enyaesque music, there's no need to belabor that. But ...
- how in the heck is a young naval officer so stupid as to pitch a permanent tent fifty feet from the shoreline in Newfoundland?
- what exactly (if anything) is Claire "sacrificing" at the end to get the fish to come back?
- why does a poor village in the back-of-beyond just abandon the village church after suffering a modest fire, without just repairing it?
- why would a capable, experienced young woman such as Silly do nothing more than scream while James is drowning? Fishing villages have life-threatening situations all the time, and there is ample rope even on a small schooner to throw to a fellow no more than 15 yards from the boat.
- Why is Claire's mother so supremely stupid as to not figure out why dragging her daughter to Nowhere, NF, could possibly bore her? (Oh, and exactly where was the cell tower so she could use her cell phone, anyway?)
There are just a few too many such flaws to sustain suspension of disbelief, and combined with plot elements of such subtlety -- is the doctor Silly's father, for instance? -- as to be impenetrable, it's not a movie I'd go out of my way to see again.
Like all good faerie-tales, Deeply's story is naturally predictable-- to
disappointment, focus on the quality of the telling, not the originality
The plot and literary devices are carbon copies of James Cameron's
cinematography is a slightly less artistic version of The Shipping News.
commenters provide a more detailed synopsis, so I will cut straight to my
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A beautiful story. truly the best acting job I have seen in a movie in years. Dunst does a wonderful job as a happy go lucky teenager. She does a great job showing how love can possess anyone. The story of the 50 year heist of fish leaves one wondering who is can be. Dunstdoes a wonderful job acting, but Lynn Redgrave does an even better job in the end. It doesn't come out until the end that Redgrave is Silly. One of the best dramatic acting rolls I have seen in ages. Perhaps the best acting job is done by Julia Brendler. You don't see that she too is the 50 year recipient. The pain and anger she feels at losing her first love comes to play as she realizes she is the one. the movie ends with her accepting this fate and starts to play her violin again. A truly great movie, every piece falls into place at the end. wonderfully written, wonderfully acted, wonderfully directed!
I just watched this movie this morning, and while it wasn't a complete waste of my time, I do feel like I have lost a few braincells. I cannot figure out for the life of me, what kind of accent Kirsten Dunst is trying to use. Irish? Scottish? To me it came off as a southern bell with a cold...which did not fit in with any part of the film. Another problem with the movie...some of the characters have no basis for being in the film anyway...Pete for example...what exactly is his motive for helping James...is he in love with Silly too? All I know is, Dunst can do better, and Lynn Redgrave being such a good actress, should not stoop to such a low level with this film.
I was touched by this moving film. Kirsten Dunst gives one of her best performances as a girl struggling to understand the world around her and the hidden secrets of her town. Relative newcomer Trent Ford shows promise in his pivotal role. A must see.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
this is a great movie, i just wish there were more of it. it tells the
of two girls, one from the 1940's, one from 50 years later, each of whom
their lover die in an accident. claire (the modern one) comes to the island
with her mother after her boy friend died in a motorcycle accident -claire
was driving. she meets a cranky and bitter older woman, celia, who tells
the tale of "silly" a girl who loved the sea and fishing. silly was born
first baby of fishing season, and was the baby chosen by the curse that
rests on the island. every fifty years all the fish leave the island b/c of
a curse that two viking lovers who drowned put on it for revenge for their
deaths. every one on the island starves until one of two young lovers dies-
leaving the one left to mourn (eternal sorrow as tribute to the curse)-
has happened for over 500 years. silly's mother made her promise never to
near the water, and the fish do leave. an admiral and his family come to
island with the idea of putting a naval base there. silly and the only son
james fall in love and of course every one else wants to pull them apart.
the end, they escape by boat to elope. but silly's mothers pearls get lost
over the side of the boat. as soon as james jumps in the water to get them,
a storm blows up and he is drowned. back in the present, claire reads the
story and by grieving for silly and james she is able at last to grieve for
herself and her own loss.
i rate this film--
7 of 10 stars
if you want a happy ending don't watch if you want to cry, this is a good movie ditto if you want lovely nova scotia scenery or like kirsten dunst
final words: each of the story lines would have supported their own seperate movie and its a desperate shame that they were not seperate movies.as is though, it is mostly good and made me cry, which i hardly ever do. it left me wanting more of the story which i don't think will be likely to happen so i say go watch "Michael Collins" after this movie. there's one that will satisfy.
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