Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Perks of Getting Your Heart Smashed: The Deep Blue Sea

First of all, don't come into this flick expecting Sam Jackson and mutant sharks. You'll be sorely disappointed. Second of all, I'm not positive what calendar the Academy follows (Julian? Gregorian?) but Rachel Weisz either should have been or should be nominated for her balls to the wall, woman on the verge of getting her soul ripped apart performance in The Deep Blue Sea.

Weisz's Hester (her character's name is not one of the film's subtleties) is a beautiful young woman living in post-war England married to a much older (and richer, and titled) man with a mother complex. It's almost like if there were a sequel to the film version of My Fair Lady--because Hester even falls in love with a dashing pilot named Freddy. And that's where her troubles begin.

Though her marriage to Sir William is clearly a mismatch, her affair with Freddy is no better in terms of romantic success. Freddy (Loki from Thor/Avengers!) is vain, careless, and weak, and hates Hester for loving him so well when he seems incapable, whether from war trauma or a constitutional deficiency, to love her back.

The film opens with a trippy, nearly ten-minute-long wordless sequence where Hester flashes back on the twin stories of her disintegrating marriage to Sir William, and the salad days of her affair with Freddy. The fact that this scene takes place in a grungy walk-up during Hester's suicide attempt should tell you where she's at during the film's present. The rest of the movie takes place over the course of roughly twelve hours, with Hester desperately trying to make Freddy be the lover she wants, or, failing that, the lover who stays, interspersed with flashbacks of London during the Blitz.

The Deep Blue Sea is almost a melodrama (and I don't mean that in a bad way) / opera hybrid. There are striking musical interludes, and several scenes are punctuated with choral sing-alongs that cleverly comment on and complicate Hester's journey to and within the hell that is unrequited love.

The title of the film refers to Hester's dilemma: what do you do when you're between the devil and the deep blue sea? The answer is lovely and surprising. Though Sir William could (and would) offer her a life of comfort, she has been deeply and irrevocably awakened by her lust for Freddy, and doesn't want to return to a life bereft of passion.While "researching" (Wikipedia) the Terence Rattigan play on which this film is based, I found out that the gay Rattigan conceived it as a metaphor for the torture of a closeted life. The Deep Blue Sea works with that reading, though, before I knew that, I found it more a feminist parable. But really, the story is resonant for anyone who has deeply and disastrously and destructively loved someone who wouldn't or couldn't love them back.

No comments:

Post a Comment