The Deep Blue Sea starts promisingly with a magnificent piece of editing and cinematography. Bleak, darkly lit shots of Hester Collyer (Rachel Weisz) are juxtaposed with bright colourful shots of her together with Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston). The camera swirls around with terrific energy as they lie in bed with the film then brilliantly cutting to her lying alone, truly emphasising how sad and alone she is now compared to how happy she was then. The opening could be seen as disorientating, the film flashing backwards and forwards in time, but it is refreshing and different to see this approach to showing a relationship, rather than the conventional chronological order of a romance following them from when they first meet.
We are quickly introduced to Hester’s husband William, superbly played by Simon Russell Beale and his comically dislikable mother (Ann Mitchell), whose belief in living life with a “guarded enthusiasm” goes some way to explaining why Hester has an affair in the first place. In an interesting twist on the norm, Hester’s sweet and sensitive husband is infinitely more likeable than Tom Hiddleston’s selfish, irritable Freddie, who Hester has an affair with.
This, however, is one of the issues with the film; other than the opening flourish of lust, we are given very little explanation as to why Hester would chose to be with this man and reject the almost painfully kind and caring William, who is arguably the only sympathetic character in the film.
The performances from all the actors in the film are exceptional. Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, and Simon Russell Beale create complex characters that are equally fascinating and frustrating. Another issue with The Deep Blue Sea is that, based upon the play by Terrence Rattigan, it often forgets it is a film. The interesting camerawork scene at the opening is sadly lacking in the rest of the film. It very much feels like a play bought to the screen rather than a film in its own right. It jumps from one dialogue heavy scene to another at times without much cohesion, which makes it feel like a series of acting set pieces rather than one satisfying piece. It’s also relentlessly depressing with Rachel Weiz’s overly sensitive and vulnerable character at times becoming tedious. The Deep Blue Sea desperately needed to show more of the lighter side of the relationship between the two main characters to evoke more sympathy for them and also to give the film more ‘heart’.
Overall it’s a well-made film and any accolades received by the actors are well deserved. However, it’s almost constant sombre tone does make it difficult to watch and throughout you can’t help but feel that you would be rather be watching it on stage.