The affected, if evocative tale of deep longing and repression in post-World War II Britain is based on the 1952 Terence Rattigan play having a gauzy, refined soft focus that helps deep the emotions within its important character dynamics.
Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, and Simon Russell Beale fill out the main roles in Terence Davies' The Deep Blue Sea (once done in 1955 with Vivien Leigh) as spare dialogue and visage goes a long way, along with a classically infused score.
In Davies' adaptation of the noted playwright, the yearning and pain of Weisz's Lady Hester who attempts suicide at the outset is very palpable ("somewhere around 1950"), and she makes for a riveting viewer portal even if her state is unappealing. Through an unhurried trajectory, Hester is caught between the devil and the title by drifting from a desired life with High Court Judge Sir William (Beale) by being enamored with feckless, handsome Royal Air Force pilot Freddie (Hiddleston).
It's hard not to feel the strain in Hester's life as Freddie's distancing of their relationship (with flash backing to their passion) from a golf outing with buddies leaves her lost and in an aching desperate position. So, Davies doesn't have much up his sleeve when it comes to story (which may remind some distaff art house cineastes of his The House of Mirth thematically). It also captures his fascination with the details of a period in a place where an act like Hester's was a punishable offense with some group sing-a-longs with the melancholy of the social and psychological implications there for some startling effect.
The dialogue and treatment of the material for some may be stilted and too theatrical given its source, but it's hard not to find where Weisz goes wrong in her rangy dramatic interpretation of it all. She's committed to the director's carefully calibrated sure hand which results in a wrenching portrait that impels one to look for glimmers of light within the downbeat nature of tough love. There's a wounded dignity in a cherishing William that Beale manifests in a role that may have been pared down, allowing for Hiddleston to etch out a character with little regard for personal ramifications trying to find his way (to Brazil professionally) after the war.
The experience of reckless romance and emptiness may seem stolid and extended, but Davies through a heartfelt Weisz observantly manages to generate enough compassion in beautifully rendering Great Britain during a period of transition with much minimalist rectitude.
|The Deep Blue Sea - 2012||B||B|