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i saw this with twenty something people. This was not a movie for them,
but it is a most superior film for older people who have seen people
live torturous lives. Why people do things that hurt themselves is a
intriguing question which fascinates psychologists and artists alike.
No one has come up with a satisfactory answer, not even a plausible
one, and Freud leads the list of the clueless. Thus, Hester (played by
a wonderful Rachel Weisz) can fascinate those of us who care about the
inner working and emotional vicissitudes of a self destructive woman
and who will learn about the human condition by considering her
behavior. Simon Beale and Tom Hiddleston, the men in her life, are
equally impressive performers playing equally limited (Beale) and
troubled (Hiddleston) persons.
First, I think most people don't know where the title comes from. A song popular during the second world war (a recent event in this film), has the line "we're caught between perdition and the deep blue sea." This is an apt description of the three protagonists.
This film might be quite tedious for those in a hurry to move on with their lives. The three main characters are stuck and seem to have no capacity for getting unstuck. This is tough to contemplate if you can't wait for your tomorrow's great triumph, or if you see romance as a smooth road to your personal paradise.
The rest of us are mesmerized as these troubled lives unfold on screen. Yes, the mood and physical atmosphere are almost relentlessly dark (it needn't have been); The film is completely without humor, and it is much too slow moving. These are minor difficulties. The script and performances are magnificent.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The credits are rolling; a clock is ticking; a woman's voice is heard,
upper-middle class, declaring that, this time, she really is going to
die. And so the music beginsthe second movement of Samuel Barber's
richly romantic violin concerto. The camera pans left and tracks
backwards from a dark, difficult-to-make-out street scene. Then,
slowly, magically, it begins to glide up, up, up the façade of an
utterly typical London terrace house, as the music continues to swell.
Finally, as the music reaches its first crescendo, and the camera comes
to a halt, we see the haunted face of Rachel Weisz at the top window.
And then we dissolve into the past: a man (Simon Russell BealeLord
William Collyer), and a woman (Rachel WeiszHester, his wife) sit
opposite each other, in silence. He smiles, gently; she returns his
smile. The music is uncertain, fragile. The violins are poised as if in
anticipation. Her eyes are starting to fill. And then the haunting
melody beginsand just as it begins the tears start to fall down her
face. If there has been a more perfect union of music and image in the
history of cinema, I have never seen it. The simplicity and beauty of
the moment is quite breathtaking.
We see further scenes, culminating in a quite remarkably tender and intimate love scene (which features the really quite glorious spectacle of a liberated and libidinous Hester licking Freddie's back). The camera circles; the effect is at once romantic and vaguely sickening. The music draws to a close. Hester is on the flooris she dead? Voices are heard, distorted, almost ghost-like. And thenSLAP! Hester is violently jolted back to the reality she now has to face.
So ends the overture to Terence Davies's latest film, an adaptation of Terrence Rattigan's play "The Deep Blue Sea". It is a glorious, singular opening, which matches practically nothing in cinema, and certainly nothing in Rattigan. His play takes place in one room on one day. Davies shatters these classical unities into shards of memory, which the viewer must piece together into new wholesjust as Hester must go in search of her lost time, to gain some sort of control over her own troubled consciousness. How did she get here? Why did she try to commit suicide? *Did* she try to commit suicide? Is it because her lover no longer loves her? Is her primary motivation love, or shame, or something else? A series of flashbacks provide us with clues, but of course no answers. Davies is not only a master at relating music and imagehis opening overture is perhaps the best opening to a film I've ever seen. He is also wonderfully alive to the deep indeterminacy of human motive, a theme which he left relatively unexplored in his early autobiographical memory pieces, but which seems increasingly to be the red thread uniting his later adaptations. Of course, we are not simply a mystery to ourselves. But aspects of our mental lives will remain forever dark to us. And, because we are inside Hester's consciousness throughout, we see that, although her behaviour is hardly inexplicable, aspects of her mental life will remain forever dark to her as well.
We *see*centrally, we see how Hester feels; but we do not always feel how Hester feels. At the end of the film's brilliantly acted closing scene, she is heartbroken. We can see this; but what I felt is a kind of relief, at Hester's becoming freed from an impossible, stifling situation. I think this is deliberate. Barber's music is gushingly romantic, and it could easily be used, by a lesser director, to create cheap emotional effects. But this is not how Davies uses it. It is the music of her love affair with Freddie. And the film is notin its "real time" sequencesabout her love affair with Freddie. It's about the end of the affair. That is why we hear the music during the overturewhich is about her affairbut hardly at all during the rest of the film. The romance in the music is a kind of lie. That is what Hester must come to terms with. The snatches of music we hear later are the final flickering of a dying ember, reminding Hester of what she (and we) must move beyond. Barber's romanticism gives way to something more prosaic, less elevated, and more world-weary: Eddie Fisher singing "Any Time".
This is a film of real riches. The shot composition alone makes it something to treasure. It's also a vast improvement on Rattigan's somewhat unfocused play, which Davies adapts, not as Rattigan himself did in the earlier film version, by trying to "open it out" (by including scenes of Freddie and Hester on a skiing holidayrather as 1970s British sitcoms were "opened out" for their film versions by sending the cast away on holiday), but by homing in on its central relationships, and breaking it up in the way I have described. I am not sure it is a flawless film. Collyer's mother (Barbara Jefford) seems to be too much of a caricature to perform the function which Davies seems to intend for herto represent one manifestation of the repressive social values which Hester is up against. But this remains a film of deep intelligence and real gracequalities which its central performances also possess. And here special mention must be made of Rachel Weisz, who gives a really wonderful, sympathetic, and utterly authentic performance. Authenticity permeates the film as a whole. This is not a smirking, ironic vision of the 1950s, intended primarily to comfort us on how far we've come; it *is* the 1950s, as Davies remembers it, with all its starchiness and stiffnessand that is likely to be somewhat challenging and somewhat alienating for the modern viewer. But audiences who are prepared to meet that challenge will be richly rewarded by this lovely, unique, masterful film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The main flaw with this film is the score. The entire score seems
wholly misplaced against the backdrop of the story. The entire
collection of violins drown the dialogue and plot in trills and
crescendos, without any consequence, and leaves a bitter taste, from
the start, and little hope that something impressive is going to
Having said that, Rachel Weisz as Hester Collyer was sublime. Her portray was forceful, promising and deeply crafted. Her rough emotional distance and tentative passion lends a more natural edge to an other gloomy film. It is tragic when a film, with as much potential as this one, relies so heavily on one of two characters to keep it afloat. The rest of the cast, do not deserve any special mention. They are merely stilted orbs, lacking any remarkable features, revolving around the maelstrom that is Hester Collyer.
The cinematography also deserved a special note. Intimate shots swathed in 1950's British charm holds this film in a state of timelessness. The cinematography also mixes well with Rachel Weisz's role - her melancholia so closely studied by Terence Davies, that rushes in and ebbs as quickly, is deepened and darkened by the lifeless rooms and hopeless situations she finds herself in.
Overall this is a movie that one needs to see for oneself; in order to formulate your own opinion about it, independently and isolation.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A story we have seen many times before - woman destroyed by love - but one with which the director of The House of Mirth both has a particular affinity and invests with that dreamlike, almost somnambulist, melancholy and clear-eyed, even-handed candour in his representations of the key players: desperate romantic wife, wronged but dignified husband, selfish but droll lover, stern yet empathetic landlady. As a result the familiar turns of the narrative matter less than the exquisitely observed pathos of their enaction. Davies messes with chronology, too, so that we begin at story's end and are never sure how close together the two suicide attempts come. The final shot is a chilling pan onto a burnt-out shell of a house, at once proleptic and symbolic of the protagonist's utter desolation, like something from a David Lynch movie.
I have seen this film more than once, and the first time I saw it, I
was extremely pleased. The movie contains so many emotions. The acting
was absolutely brilliant. Tom Hiddleston is such an under-rated actor.
He's phenomenal, and I hope to see him a lot in the future. Rachel
Weisz performance was beautiful. The emotions she portrayed were
The music throughout the film was actually quite intelligent. It captured you, and let out emotions as it played during the scenes. I enjoyed every piece of music that was used in this film, especially when they're singing in the bars.
The chemistry Tom and Rachel had was brilliant. They seemed so comfortable with each other, and that just lead the film, and it made it so believable.
I have given this film 10 out of 10 for obvious reasons. I highly recommend this film if you enjoy movies with an excellent storyline, and amazing acting, excellent crew and directing.
Deep and heartbreaking look at a woman's fight for inner freedom is a
real treat to see. Rachel Weisz and Terrence Davis create a dark fable
about desire and expectations with Weisz once again proving to be the
best actress of her generation with a tour de force performance that
will dazzle and stay with you after the film is over. Tom Hiddleston is
great as her object of desire and Simon Russell Beale is great as her
husband. It's a bit stagy in some area but once you get passed it it's
carries you in its current. Giving you an understanding of a time and
place where desire and lust was forbidden.
A true classic in the making:)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I entered this film with high expectations and was sorely disappointed,
and for someone who usually enjoys period films with strong character
development, that's saying something. Everything I needed to know about
the character(s) was revealed in the slow spiraling first ten minutes
of the movie during which I was already looking at my watch and waiting
for the pace of the film to pick up. It never did.
Here is the story: bored, well-to-do housewife, has left boring, and sadly loyal husband with a difficult mother for shallow, self-consumed air force pilot only to find that the relationship doesn't work. We don't know exactly why. He is certainly damaged by the war and hates his current mundane life, and it's hinted that he's not smart enough for her, though for some inconceivable reason she can't seem to break her infatuation with him. She hates her life and herself, so rather than spending it sitting in a dark flat staring at the walls and hoping for lung cancer to set in, she decides to kill herself. This is where the audience comes into the film.
Unfortunately for the us, she fails, so we are forced to endure watching the remaining 90 minutes of the film in small, yet amazingly interminable snippets of her life, any of which, if developed at all, had the potential to be interesting. By the last 20 minutes, it was a toss up which of us, her or me, would survive to see the light of day.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Terence Davies is the darling of the BFI where the pseuds who run the place orgasm and genuflect in that order each time his name is mentioned and even as I write are probably planning deification any time soon. The problem with this is that now Davies thinks he is a better writer than Terence Rattigan whereas he isn't fit to change Rattigan's typewriter ribbon. If there was one thing Rattigan could do in his sleep it was CONSTRUCT a play, apparently Davies thinks he can construct a film. In your dreams, mate. With gorgeous conceit Davies is on record as saying that Rattigan didn't devote sufficient time to Hester in Act I of his play so Davies has put that right by dreaming up a lengthy sequence involving Hester's marriage to William Collier and introducing an entire scene involving Collier's mother, and other scenes showing Hester and Freddy Paige getting together. Stuff that Rattigan was able to do more than adequately via a combination of stagecraft and dialogue. He has also seen fit to eliminate the young married couple who find Hester in the play and far from the gas meter running out he has her feed it with several coins before attempting suicide. This is all accompanied by loud, agonisingly tortuous music reminiscent of one of Wagner's worst excesses and if that weren't enough he throws in several pop songs of the time - You Belong To Me, Autumn Leaves and, in another totally extraneous scene set in a tube station during the blitz, Molly Malone. His amateurishness shows up in a pub scene in which the patrons are singing at the tops of their voices, Freddy and Hester step outside, meters from the pub and suddenly it's silent as the grave. It's one thing to tamper with a work that no one alive remembers seeing on its first production - Oscar Wilde say, but The Deep Blue Sea is revived as often as Private Lives both on stage and television and there can't be anyone with an interest in theatre who has not seen it in one production or another - all presented as Rattigan wrote it - within say, the lest six or seven years so there is no excuse, other than massive ego, for this travesty. Throw in the fact that the actor playing Freddie lacks even a smidgin of the breeziness that Kenneth More brought to the role and much more anger. David Mamet, a far superior writer than Davies, is also an admirer of Rattigan and he chose to direct a film adaptation of Rattigan's The Winslow Boy a few years ago, direct it, yes, not rewrite it. Someone at the BFI should remind Davies that the only thing he has in common with Rattigan is a Christian name and homosexuality.
Yes, the film is depressing. Yes, it is very long (or it feels rather longer than it is). But, it is good. After viewing it, I couldn't get it out of my mind. It's utterly haunting. There are many things that were less than great in this film. But I've narrowed it down to 1: The Pacing. If this one flaw were corrected, it would have made an excellent film. But, rather than focusing on the negative, I will write about the positive aspects of this particular movie. First, the cinematography is excellent. Those ultra-saturated colors serve the film and the period which it represents very well. I've covered the editing (in the negative) but I will say that there were some surprisingly beautiful camera movements in the piece, that were noticeable, yet served the mood of the story very well. However, if you ever see this film, I would recommend it for the wonderfully subtle performance of Rachel Weisz, who has grown into one of the best actors of her generation. Everything you need to know about the way her character is feeling is not always in the dialogue, but on her mesmerizing face. Weisz makes you not necessarily relate (it is, almost always un-relatable, because of the period and the character that she is playing), but she does make you care. There is no question that this is not a film for everyone. It is slow, it is internal, but it is also worth giving it a try. I moaned and complained all the way through, but in the end, I was unable to stop thinking about it. And, that alone is a testament to its power. It slowly gets under your skin, and you won't even notice it!
Overindulgent and somewhat stuffy romantic drama that is saved single
handedly by the Oscar caliber performance of Rachel Weisz, who gives a
very complex and realistic look at a women whose self destructing over
her choices in life in post war Britain in the 1950's. Weisz so good
that she brings a lot of life into a somewhat lifeless screenplay that
is more into atmosphere than substance. Both of her leading men are
fine and lent great support to the vibrant Weisz, who is keeping this
film afloat almost by herself while the movie gets a bit claustrophobic
towards its climax. The film does have some great moments ( The pub
scene and the intimate moment between Weisz and leading man Tom
Hiddleston while dancing) but that's more the credit to Weisz and the
cast than the film itself. Rachel Weisz has always been one of the most
gifted and versatile actresses working today, not being afraid to do
different characters and being unlikeable and raw in the process. In
this film, she gives in my opinion the best female acting performance
in the last few years, giving a complex and rich performance with a
character that could have easily been botch by even a great actress,
especially with a screenplay that is more into itself than the audience
watching the movie. Weisz proves in this movie that she's more than a
great actress, she proves that she is one of the best actresses we ever
Her phenomenal performance alone is the real reason to see this movie.
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