Deep Water 2022: below the smooth surface of the waters

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Deep Water 2022
Deep Water 2022

Deep Water 2022: below the smooth surface of the waters

Deep Water 2022: On the surface, Vic and Melinda form, with their daughter Trixie, a perfect family. They are rich, handsome, and they hang out with lots of other people who are just as rich and handsome as they are.

Except that, for a while now, the relationship between the spouses has gone from stagnant to toxic: while he tortures her with his indifference, she torments him with a very public succession of lovers.

Then, here that, during a party, Vic entrusts to the fop of the moment that he killed his predecessor…

Tense, this passage was first imagined in literature by the great Patricia Highsmith before being taken up in cinema by Michel Deville, and now by Adrian Lyne, who makes a return with Deep Water (Deep Waters) after two decades of absence. (Deep Water 2022)

For the record, we owe this English director a host of seminal films of the 1980s, such as Flashdance (Le feu de la danse), 9½ Weeks (9½ weeks), and Fatal Attraction (Fatal Liaison), which popularized the genre of the erotic thriller.

In this case, Deep Water summons both aestheticizing and uninhibited lasciviousness of these productions. No, the filmmaker has lost none of his taste for stylized lighting combined with effects of smoke, rain, or other mist.

Moreover, at the height of his fame, he was reproached until his formalism (like Alan Parker, Ridley Scott, and Tony Scott, his compatriots and contemporaries who came like him from advertising), judging his cinema to be eye-catching and superficial.

Whatever one thinks, the fact remains that Adrian Lyne has a signature which, at 81, remains perfectly identifiable. Respect. (Deep Water 2022)

What’s more, Lyne has a flair for bringing together duos whose chemistry will set the screen ablaze: Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke, Glenn Close and Michael Douglas, and now Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck.

Because, yes, the sexual tension-frustration between these two is close to boiling point. (Deep Water 2022)


Chabrol takes 2

As in the novel, the film is quick to establish Vic’s guilt. Rather, the interest lies in the sometimes playfully psychologically twisted interactions between Vic and Melinda.

Although the most striking scene occurs between Vic and his daughter, a brilliant child who conducts an interrogation that is all the more chilling because it takes place in good nature.

The film has, however, problems, starting with its many implausibilities, especially with regard to the murders. When the novel was published in 1957, forensic science was not what it is now.

However, as shown, the homicide by drowning would leave bruises allowing illico to conclude to a suspicious death, for example. (Deep Water 2022)

With the profusion of detective series broadcast for 20, 30 years, the public has become less gullible. And there are a handful of too convenient coincidences not to wince.

Certain aspects would also have deserved to be dug, such as the fact that the fortune belongs to Vic and that he, therefore, holds the purse strings:

a potential form of marital control which remains unexplored, the film dwelling rather on detail the sadomasochism at work, on both sides, in spouses — an approach favored in his time by Michel Deville as well.

About this first adaptation, it was of beautiful minimalism, but to the absolute darkness of the denouement imagined by Patricia Highsmith, Deville preferred an end as cynical as morally ambiguous.

This was the most Chabrolian of his films, said ending reminiscent of that of The Unfaithful Woman (Claude Chabrol, 1969). (Deep Water 2022)

In his version, Adrian Lyne, whose last film, Unfaithful (Infidèle), was incidentally a remake of The Unfaithful Wife, follows more the detail of the frame of Highsmith, but he takes on his account the end of the film of Deville.

Serial Sociopaths

In reality, what surprises me the most in Deep Water is Ben Affleck. Like the novel, the film favors Vic’s point of view, and the actor proves to be particularly convincing as a being whose outward stoicism hides a sociopathic nature.

Perhaps Affleck sought advice from his old friend Matt Damon, who found one of his best roles in The Talented Mister Ripley, based on another Patricia Highsmith novel.

The author who, with also Strangers on a Train (The unknown of the North-Express), adapted by Alfred Hitchcock, obviously had a weakness for too calm killers. Do not we say that we must be wary of sleeping water? (Deep Water 2022)

Deep Waters (V.F. of Deep Water)
Suspense by Adrian Lyne. With Ben Affleck, Ana de Armas, Grace Jenkins, Tracy Letts, Lil Rel Howery, Finn Wittrock, Rachel Blanchard. USA, 2022, 115 minutes, on Prime Video.

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