On paper, Adrian Lyne regarded like a secure guess when it got here to selecting a director to deliver an erotic, psychological thriller like Deep Water to life. Based mostly on the Patricia Highsmith novel of the identical identify — a couple of husband and spouse, the lovers she takes, and the fallout of a lie about murdering her final paramour — it’s precisely the kind of story that the filmmaker behind 9½ Weeks, Indecent Proposal and Lolita could be suited to. And but, after a 20-year absence for the reason that launch of his final movie, 2002’s Untrue, Lyne appears to have softened his edges.
The odd couple on the centre of this smalltown intrigue are Vic and Melinda Van Allen, performed by Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas, who, after seven years collectively, have made a reasonably iffy deal: she will be able to have affairs with different males so long as she stays within the marriage for the sake of a daughter that solely he appears to point out a lot affection for.
That ‘Unhappy Affleck’ meme involves thoughts each time the digital camera closes in on Vic’s face whereas watching his youthful, dissatisfied spouse flirt round with fairly boys at varied areas: a neighbour’s backyard right here, one other neighbour’s pool there, even their very own eating room. De Armas actually doesn’t endear Melinda to you, delivering her flagrant marital disregard with gorgeous viciousness and indifference to her husband’s emotions. However though she exhibits motherly distance in direction of their youngster, Evelyn, the underlying ache and frustration in her vast eyes do evoke empathy for a lady who seems like a trophy spouse and might need been pressured into parenthood too early.
Paparazzi pictures of De Armas and Affleck from their temporary relationship are believably hornier than most scenes. It’s simply Lyne’s tamest erotic thriller.
Affleck, then again, appears miscast because the type of mild-mannered cuckold who, after teasing the concept that he murdered his spouse’s ex-lover who disappeared, could have developed his personal harmful, sociopathic impulses. Even when the narrative descends into entertaining ’90s-thriller ranges of violent absurdity, Affleck isn’t convincing. He’s sadly not as charmingly disturbing as his pal Matt Damon within the title function of The Gifted Mr Ripley — one other of Highsmith’s psychopathic main males — and because the film hinges on this protagonist’s actions, it’s an underwhelming endeavor.
Deep Water couldn’t be farther from the shiny, Mediterranean aesthetic of Anthony Minghella’s Ripley adaptation. Many of the motion takes place within the expansive properties of a rich American group. That the whole lot appears chilly and medical reinforces the Van Allens’ frosty and inhospitable marriage — as does composer Marco Beltrami’s melancholic strings within the rating — nevertheless it additionally makes for a drab-looking movie that reduces the efficiency of the intercourse scenes. They’re tempered additional by erratic enhancing, particularly in moments the place creativeness and actuality collide. Paparazzi pictures of De Armas and Affleck from their temporary relationship are believably hornier than most scenes. It’s simply Lyne’s tamest erotic thriller.
The script, co-written by Zach Helm (Stranger Than Fiction) and Sam Levinson (Euphoria, Malcolm & Marie) makes varied modifications from the unique novel as a strategy to extra clearly set up the potential for amorality in its male protagonist. An ungainly backyard get together scene between Tracy Letts’ intrusive pulp-fiction author Lionel and Vic, discussing the latter’s early retirement from promoting a microchip for army use, is refined however aptly lays the muse for not solely their antagonistic relationship but additionally for suspicion and paranoia to ferment. But the writers pull their punches by the ultimate act, and by no means comply with by with Highsmith’s stunning ending.
The Van Allens not often perform as greater than inventory characters in want of deeper introspection to warrant our consideration, and it’s actually solely by the sensual, kinetic efficiency of de Armas that any sense of passionate sentiment or nervous emotion is given life. The movie is hindered by lacklustre course and a script barely keen to scrape the floor of what might have been an intense, psychosexual exploration of masculinity, morality and marriage.