DEEP WATER. Erotic thriller starring Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck [Review]
Sex, death, mystery, unpredictable mistresses and lovers, unfaithful wives and husbands seem to be the perfect recipe for engaging cinema. Adrian Lyne discovered a long time ago that such a film brew tastes best. The eighty-one-year-old creator of such erotic films as 9 1/2 Weeks (1986), Fatal Attraction (1987), Indecent Proposal (1993), Lolita (1997) and Unfaithful (2002) returned after twenty years with his latest thriller titled Deep Water. The recipe, although proven many times before, failed this time, and instead of the promising fluffy sponge cake, a nasty zakalec came out.
Lyne’s erotic thriller tells the story of a seemingly successful marriage that faces many problems. Melinda (Ana de Armas) and Vic Van Allen (Ben Affleck) have an open relationship, but only she takes advantage of this arrangement by dating many other men. Melinda does not hide this from her husband or even from their mutual friends, openly inviting new lovers to parties and social gatherings, and even to her own home. Unlike his wife, Vic has no need for relationships with other women and accepts his wife’s sexual excesses. This arrangement, however, clearly weighs on the jealous protagonist, who dreams of a family idyll with a faithful woman and a loving mother by his side. The idyll of the Van Allens, however, differs from this romantic vision – the characters maintain the appearance of a family life, they have a dog and a daughter Tixie (Grace Jenkins), but as Melinda says in one of the arguments: “It was your choice.” There is no love in the protagonists’ marriage, and their relationship is primarily a series of torment and suffering.
In one of the first scenes in the film, Melinda openly flirts and kisses with her new lover at a friends party. When Vic is alone with him, she tells him that Melinda’s last lover is presumed missing, but he actually killed him. Is Vic just trying to scare off his wife’s suitor? Is it a lie or is it true? These questions remain with the viewers for the next several dozen minutes of the film. Meanwhile, rumors spread around town and even the couple’s neighbors and friends begin to suspect the worst of Vic.
It seems that Deep Water had everything it needed to make the film a success – talented actors, feeling at home in this particular film genre, Sam Levinson, creator of the series Euphoria, as writer (along with Zach Helm) and Patricia Highsmith’s novel as the book’s prototype for the film. It is worth mentioning that many famous movies have been made based on the Highsmith novel. In recent years, based on her book, Todd Haynes directed Carol (2015), and based on Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley, Alfred Hitchcock and Anthony Minghella created some of the most famous crime films in the history of cinema.
Despite this, Deep Water scenario leaves much to be desired. It is a great pleasure to watch Ben Affleck with a hateful, psychopathic look on the screen and Ana de Armas full of unbalanced, perverse sexual energy, but the characters drawn by the writers are so flat that they fall into clichés. It’s a pity that de Armas was locked up again in such a stereotypical role as a devilishly sexy but completely unbalanced feline in heat, after she was so wonderfully plucked from this superficial sexuality in No Time to Die, where she played a sexy, but fascinating, interesting agent character, although we only saw her on the screen for a few minutes.
In Deep Water, even for two hours, the creators fail to draw any depth in the lives of their characters. They rarely delve into the motivations and personalities of their characters, and as a result, Lyne’s thriller is just shallow, empty and uninteresting, and has a completely uneven narrative structure. It doesn’t get interesting until the very end of the film, when it turns out that there is much more behind Vic’s strange nature and dysfunctional relationship with Melinda. Unfortunately, it is at this most intriguing moment that the film ends, leaving the viewer with many questions. Deep Water is unfortunately a complete dud, but if you want to check it out for yourself, the film is available on Amazon Prime Video.