It’s been twenty years since British director Adrian Lyne directed a film, which was Unfaithful in 2002. The last film of his I saw was Indecent Proposal (1993), and I grew up watching his films – Flashdance, 9-1/2 Weeks and Fatal Attraction. Lyne is back with a new erotic psychological thriller Deep Water, which was curiously pulled from theatrical release by the studio (Disney) and instead will be released in Hulu. Starring Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas as married couple Vic and Melinda Van Allen, the story is based on a 1957 Patricia Highsmith‘s novel with the same name. From the outside, looks like the Van Allens live a charmed life in their spacious suburban home. Vic is handsome and rich, having sold his drone-chip company for millions that enables him to retire early. Melinda, who looks about half Vic’s age, is drop-dead gorgeous and free-spirited. Perhaps a little too free, the girl just wants to have some fun.
Right from the first moment we see the two interact briefly as Vic gets home from mountain biking, we’re made to believe that they’re in a loveless marriage. The impassive Vic just doesn’t seem fun enough for Melinda and she isn’t shy to show it. At parties, Vic would watch his wife flagrantly flirts and seduces other men right in front of him… even his friends seem concerned about Melinda’s behavior, some even say he ought to ‘rein’ her in. It’s unclear why they don’t just get a divorce as I can’t imagine either one of them having trouble getting dates. Well, as with any relationships, there is always something people on the outside would never know about.
Now this isn’t exactly a spoiler, but I’ll post a spoiler warning anyway … Apparently one of Melinda’s former lovers Malcolm McRae has gone missing and Vic casually admits that he’s killed him even though his friends are certain it’s a dark joke. So did he or didn’t he? The scene between Vic and Joel (Brendan Miller), one of Melinda’s young blond male friend Vic invites to dinner is actually more hilarious than suspenseful.
The premise sounds intriguing and has a promising set up for a mysterious psycho thriller, if only it weren’t so lethargic. Vic actually love to play with his pet snails in his greenhouse, but does the movie have to move at a snail’s pace?? Lyne seems to have lost his touch in terms of creating a sexy, mysterious atmosphere as he did with his previous films. There are nudity and sex scenes but none of it is particularly titillating. What’s worse, it’s virtually impossible to relate nor empathize with any of the characters.
The casting is quite puzzling as well. Affleck and De Armas seem well-matched here and their 16 years actual age difference actually works in their favor. But some of the supporting cast (Lil Rel Howery, Dash Mihok) make the tone seems more comedic that it feels jarring considering the generally serious tone of the film. Melinda have a seemingly endless supply of handsome male lovers, two of which are played by Jacob Elordi and Finn Wittrock, and neither one of them particularly memorable. Tracy Letts, a solid character actor, is the most memorable of the supporting cast. He plays one of the Van Allen’s writer friends who’s suspicious of Vic.
Affleck is no stranger to playing unsympathetic roles, this one reminds me of his role in Gone Girl though he seems like a nice guy here by comparison. In fact, Vic is a dotting dad to their toddler daughter Trixie (Grace Jenkins), while Melinda barely has time for her as she’s too busy meeting up with other guys. Affleck is supposed to look imposing and intimidating, but he looks bored most of the time. While De Armas is appropriately playful and seductive, Melinda comes across pretty one dimensional.
Instead of exciting and suspenseful, I find the movie tedious and overly slow. It’s less than 2 hours long but definitely feels longer and the mind games are neither tense nor chilling. It’s too bad as I expected so much more from a veteran filmmaker like Lyne, though the writers, Zach Helm and Sam Levinson, also share the blame for the lackluster script. The final scene left me scratching my head… not really sure what to make of that. After seeing this, I can see why this got pulled from cinema release, can’t imagine sitting through this in the theater.
Have you seen DEEP WATER? What did you think?