March 18th, 2022
MOVIE: DEEP WATER
STARRING: BEN AFFLECK, ANA DE ARMAS, TRACY LETTS, JACOB ELORDI
DIRECTED BY: ADRIAN LYNE
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
The erotic thriller has been a dead subgenre of cinema for a while now. It wasn’t the intention, but it died a bit with the Fifty Shades of Grey series of films, where the material was steamy, while the production looked like an ad for a BMW. They had two stellar leads in Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan but the sexy stuff was neutered, a prude person’s version of what eroticism would be. If there is one person who understands how to make a film erotic, it’s director Adrian Lyne, whose previous work includes Fatal Attraction, Unfaithful, and Indecent Proposal, and he’s churning out another sweaty slice of thrilling fiction. The actors are Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas, who had their own sultry romance behind the camera during the filming, which has long since cooled off, starring as a married couple that is fueled by jealousy, passionate sex, and cruel mistreatment leading to the potential of murder. The knobs are turned as tight as can be and emotions are pushed to the edge, in the sexy, seductive, and downright wild Deep Water.
Affleck is in the lead as Vic, a well-off man, who made his fortune selling technology in military drones, and now lives life in New Orleans with his wife Melinda (de Armas) and their daughter Trixie. From frame one it is evident that these two have a different kind of relationship, which becomes clear when they attend a party, and Melinda escapes to go spend time with a younger blonde named Joel. Vic watches them from afar, and as he witnesses, so do we witness his wife making out with this younger man. There seems to be an agreement at first, where it’s possible that Vic takes pleasure out of watching his wife, especially as we learn that this isn’t the first man that Melinda has been with outside of her marriage. Slowly, however, we begin to see that part of this is a game of torture between the married couple, where Melinda teases her husband, flaunting her sexual prowess and testing to see if he will file for divorce. What initially looks like an open relationship or a kinky side to this marriage, is actually a wicked game, where Vic increasingly becomes capable of killing to prove that Melinda belongs to him only.
The story is adapted from the novel by late-great Patricia Highsmith, whose work has an excellent history of translating to the screen, from The Talented Mr. Ripley to The Two Faces of January, it’s no surprise that Deep Water is another gripping tale of twisted lovers. The writing by Zach Helm and Sam Levinson translates perfectly, but the heavy lifting is done by Affleck and de Armas. The two leads are perfectly cast, with Affleck pulling his history of films that involve dysfunctional lovers such as Gone Girl, while de Armas plays the essence of seduction and temptation. Both characters fit their personalities as well, Affleck able to remain calm in a scary way, allowing the audience to sway back and forth, feeling sorry for his predicament, yet terrified of his cold killer personality. For Ana de Armas it’s in her wheelhouse of the muse, a woman so beautiful you understand why a man would let her get away with it. You add on top of that the true story of their brief relationship and you get an added layer that only heightens the drama.
What I specifically enjoyed about Deep Water was how adult the narrative is and how deliciously it all unfolds. The three act structure applies to the three men we see Melinda engage with. The first man is a fool, unable to see that he’s walked into the spider’s web. The second suitor- Euphoria’s Jacob Elordi- is a major threat to Vic, young, handsome, talented on the piano, and the perfect selection for what Melinda wants, which is to drive Vic insane. The third and final man (Finn Wittrock) is the innocent one, a person that had the knowledge to break up with Melinda before, and a person that Vic can’t hate. It’s because of these adult conflicts that Deep Water rises above soapy drama and becomes more than just titillating. It’s a thrilling dive into temptation and murder, something that movies desperately need.
The direction from Lyne is quite good. The director balances the erotic sides of the story by both showing and telling us. There is more to be turned on by in the words that Vic and Melinda say to one another or hands touching body parts outside the frame. The massive flaw of Deep Water is that it runs too long, where I could have done without twenty minutes, but that’s not to say I wasn’t constantly entertained. Deep Water is on a level with the work of Hitchcock, a similar tension to Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct, and the delicious erotic thrills that Adrian Lyne has become synonymous with. Deep Water will have your pulse racing, work up a sweat, so it’s best to dive right in.
DEEP WATER PREMIERES THIS FRIDAY MARCH 18TH, 2022 ON HULU
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady