With her husband perpetually away at work, a mother raises her children virtually alone. Her teenage son is testing the waters of the adult world, and early one morning she wakes to find the dead body of his gay lover on the beach of their rural lakeside home. What would you do? What is rational and what do you do to protect your child? How far do you go and when do you stop? Written by
Sujit R. Varma
A mother will do just about anything to protect her child
Tilda Swinton stars in "The Deep End," a 2001 film also starring Goran Visnjic of 'ER' fame and Peter Donat. It's a modern remake of Max Ofuhls "The Reckless Moment." Swinton plays Margaret Hall, a busy mother in charge of three children and her father-in-law (Donat) while her naval husband is away at sea. Her older son Beau (Jonathan Tucker) is gay, and when the film starts, he has just been in a terrible car accident with his drunken boyfriend Darby (Josh Lucas). Margaret goes to see him at a nightclub, The Deep End, and asks him to stay away from her son. Though we don't see the scene, she offers him $5,000 to do so. That night, he comes to see Beau, and a fight occurs. After Beau goes back to his house, Darby falls off the peer, impaling himself on an anchor. Margaret finds the body the next day and gets rid of it in the ocean and drives his car to another location. But someone knows that Darby was there, and Margaret is visited by a blackmailer, Goran Visnjic, who represents himself and his partner, and he wants $50,000, or he will give a video of Beau having sex with Darby to the police.
This is a story about unfinished thoughts, about a woman who does what she feels she has to without thinking it through. "If you're having feelings -" she says to her son, "My husband wouldn't understand -" she says to Visnjic about Beau, but never completes the sentence. She lives in a world where sometimes, it's easier not to know - or there's no time to really figure it out - and just cut to the situation.
Someone on this board said this is a film that can be appreciated on many levels, and that's true. The level I'll offer is that the Swinton character is forced by circumstances to live in the moment and just take care of things as they come up - be it blackmail, her father-in-law collapsing, finding a dead body. She's the master of split-second decisions. When Visnjic orders her to "try harder" to get the $50,000, she admits that "yes, maybe I'm not trying hard enough. Maybe you can tell me how I can try harder between driving to ballet and soccer practice, trying to reach my husband..." He eventually sees what her life is, and, as the crux of the film, the two form an important bond.
Tilda Swinton gives a brilliant performance, an underplayed one, of a woman who internally is on the verge of a nervous breakdown but externally holds it together for her family. When she goes to her father-in-law for money - $50,000 - as usual, she doesn't finish the whole thought, and he gives her $80 from his wallet. She only smiles and thanks him. When she finally breaks down, for the last reason one can imagine from the beginning of the film, she finds support from an unlikely person - who also has to keep it together amidst personal turmoil.
One more thing - someone else on this board commented that there were many negative comments on this film from people looking at it from a technical point of view. That is the reaction I had from reading comments on "The Reader." There is an emotional aspect to film. Some of us would rather get into the characters more than the lighting. I guess you'd say it's just another level of appreciation.
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