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Deep Water Review

Based on the Patricia Highsmith novel of the same name – the writer who’s also behind The Talented Mr Ripley, Carol and Strangers on a Train – comes the highly anticipated adaptation of the erotic, psychological thriller to Prime Video. With acclaimed British Director Adrian Lyne on board, the Fatal Attraction & Indecent Proposal filmmaker sounds like the perfect person at the helm for the adaptation. However, it appears after a 20-year absence, the director isn’t quite as edgy as before – paired with a surprisingly lacklustre performance from the then dating stars.

Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas star as affluent married couple Vic – a wealthy retired tech designer – and his younger wife Melinda Van Allen. Despite public appearances – things are not quite as they appear, as the pair’s marriage is crumbling and only held together for the sake of their daughter. Melinda’s extramarital dalliances are being increasingly flaunted in front of Vic and the small community, resulting in resentment, jealousy, and provocation between the pair. But when one of her ‘friends’ is shockingly discovered dead in a pool, suspicions begin to arise.

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Billed as the return of the ‘erotic thriller’, I’m afraid to say this is a real disappointment – lacking in any genuine thrills, sustained intrigue and sensuality. Unfortunately all of the faintly interesting plot threads and elements which could have been delved into and explored throughout are surprisingly cut short, merely answered within the following scenes. Vic’s vital fascination with the unsolved murder of one of Melinda’s former lovers (and the fact he takes the credit to scare away a current lover) is a key example, with the resulting paranoia and suspicion surprisingly missing. While certain threads – most notably Vic’s bizarre choice of pets – are never truly explained. Fans of the book will certainly be sorely disappointed too, as writers Zach Helm and Sam Levinson depart from a crucially shocking moment. Instead, Lyne forgoes the violence and erotic nature for a rather flat and unforgettable ending.

With the quality of Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas on top billing, it’s a surprise that there’s a distinct lack of chemistry between the two actors. The pair turn in underwhelming performances throughout – whether that’s to down to the bad adaption of their respective characters, who appear to lack any real depth and passion – or the duo merely sleepwalking through proceedings. Bizarrely only the surface of their underlying motives, feelings and fractured marriage are explored, with de Armas’ performance never endearing you to Melinda, resulting in a real level of sympathy for Vic as his wife openly flaunts her young ‘friends-with-benefits’ in front of him and their friends. When Vic finally gives into his dangerous jealousy and violent impulses – with Melinda pushing him over the edge – Affleck feels somewhat miscast, never truly convincing you of his nature as implied by Melinda. Therefore when the film descends into violence, events feel awkward, accidental and unintentionally funny.

The cinematography is also surprisingly drab and uninspired due to the moody, almost monochromatic deep green and blue colour palette, which certainly doesn’t help sell the surprisingly lacking sex scenes – reinforcing the cold nature of their marriage. Weirdly, it feels like there’s more sensuality in the gross, weird scenes with Vic’s snails. When the more ‘thrilling’ aspects finally kick in, the resulting violence and action feels oddly comical – particularly in the terribly staged car and bike chase, as the PI appears to erratically drive his vehicle through a forest and awkwardly text at the same time. The editing is also incredibly choppy throughout, particularly in this sequence and the scenes where fantasy and reality are blurred.

Verdict

Deep Water is disappointingly lacking in genuine thrills and sensuality, which really is surprising due to director Lyne’s filmography and Affleck & de Armas’ real-life relationship at the time. What could have been an intriguing marital study, exploring the hidden depths of a doomed relationship like Gone Girl, instead falls flat – feeling surprisingly devoid of both lust and intrigue.