DVD Review: The Deep Blue Sea

STUDIO: Music Box | DIRECTOR: Terence Davies | CAST: Rachel Weisz, Simon Russell Beale, Tom Hiddleston, Ann Mitchell, Jolyon Coy
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 7/24/2012 | PRICE: DVD $29.95, Blu-ray $38.94
BONUSES: commentary, interviews, featurettes
SPECS: R | 98 min. | Drama romance | aspect ratio | Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Midway through this exquisitely visualized but ponderously directed re-filming of Terrence Rattigan’s 1952 romance-drama The Deep Blue Sea starring Rachel Weisz (Dream House), two lovers dance to a pop classic of the period: Jo Stafford’s version of “You Belong to Me.” As Stafford’s great voice brims with life-force, it seems to point up what is missing in this misguided if good-looking effort.

The Deep Blue SeaRattigan was one of Britain’s most successful post-war playwrights, although his work seems tradition-bound compared to the raw anger of John Osborne (Look Back in Anger) or the surreal detachment of Harold Pinter (The Homecoming). The Deep Blue Sea was originally represented on stage with the great Peggy Ashcroft and made into a 1955 movie starring Vivien Leigh. That version, too, falls short due to Leigh’s uninvolved performance. (The actress was famously suffering severe mental problems at the time.)

Part of the problem may lie with the play itself. The character of Hester Collyer, torn between her stable but passionless marriage to a judge (Simon Russell Beale, My Week With Marilyn) with a former RAF pilot (Tom Hiddleston, Thor) is a stand-in for the homosexual Rattigan himself. Though bearded romances like Swann’s Way and Of Human Bondage have often succeeded brilliantly, that’s simply not the case here. There’s a distance between the ideas and the audience that’s never quite filled.

The performances don’t help. Beale’s wounded sheepdog of a husband seems to be begging for sympathy, while Hiddleston seems less like a grounded eagle than a tennis player past his prime. And Weisz offers almost a parody of 1950s method acting: Deathless pauses between each line. At least veteran actress Barbara Jefford (Ullysses) is on hand with a pungent cameo as Hesters mother-in-law.

The generous supplemental package is led by a commentary by Davies and film writer Ian Haydn Smith. Like the film, it’s a bit of a sterile affair, focusing mostly on the technical aspects of the production (camera movement, cinematography, structure and so on). In another bonus, Weisz and her co-stars are on hand for interviews. Most interesting here is that Weisz notes how the story is told from Hester’s point of view and how, as an actor, she’s most attracted to that kind of subjective storytelling.

Be sure to check out our contest to win a copy of The Deep Blue Sea on Blu-ray!

 

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About David

David Leopold is an actor, writer and videographer who would take a Sherpa ride up a Tibetan mountain to see an Edwige Feuillère movie.