It is a brave undertaking when one tries to adapt such a highly regarded play as The Deep Blue Sea and Terence Davies attempt falls that little bit short.
Rachel Weisz plays Hester the wife of a judge who begins an affair with a war veteran in the hopes of finding something more real than the banal niceties of marriage. The war veteran in question is Freddie played here by Tom Hiddleston who bares an uncanny resemblance to Michael Fassbender and it soon becomes apparent that their love is too volatile to survive within the constraints of a normal relationship.
The opening ten minutes or so gives us an operatic summary of Hester’s life , her feelings of despair, her sense of hope at meeting Freddie and ultimately her realisation that he can not live up to her expectations. This is the first problem with the film, to be shown such strong emotive scenes at the very beginning when we know nothing of the characters before us cheapens them and means they lack any weight or impact. Freddie comes across quite wooden throughout seeming to dissolve into a series of British parodies and we see nothing of what attracted Hester bar his beaming smile.
Weisz puts in a good performance conveying adequately feelings of longing , loneliness and isolation but the inharmonious scenes showing the deterioration of her relationship with Freddie are little more than screaming matches which comes across as hammy and hackneyed. These obviously work much better on the stage where one needs to project but on the big screen that just isolate us from the characters making them seem unrealistic.
Simon Russell Beale playing Hester’s husband gives a brilliant performance as the bewildered man left reeling from the loss of his wife’s affection and will try however pointless to recapture what he perceives they once had. The one stand out scene concerns Hester’s Landlady in the boarding house where she resides saying that real love is wiping someone arse and cleaning their urine stained sheets so that you both can continue with dignity. They say the Devil is in the detail and the look of 1950s London can not be faulted although too much emphasis is put on Weisz’s smoking which appears quite fake and does not convey any sexiness.
I often thought of Revolutionary Road while watching this but it just reminded how superior a film it is in portraying marital woes which surely can’t be a good thing.
Terence Davies / Terence Davies / Starring: Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston & Simon Russell Beale / 98 min / Drama, Romance / Release: 25 November 2011 (Irl/UK)