The Deep Blue Sea
Unashamedly old-fashioned film luscious proof of genius of Davies and Rattigan
The combination of Terence Davies and Terence Rattigan is a match made in heaven. Rattigan’s centenary year has brought renewed appreciation of his gifts as an astute chronicler of loneliness and longing, whilst Davies is a past master at capturing the emotional devastation wrought by repressed desire.
Davies strips Rattigan’s 1952 play to the bone, focusing on the poignant fate of Lady Hester Collyer (Rachel Weisz). Hester has abandoned her respectable marriage to a High Court judge (the excellent Simon Russell Beale) to pursue her hunger for ex-RAF pilot Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston). As the relationship with Freddie has soured, she finds herself a social outcast unable to see any future leading her to the failed suicide attempt that opens the film.
Florian Hoffmeister’s beautiful, soft focus cinematography offers a vision of post-War London defined by smoky pubs, foggy streets and cheap digs with cheerless gas fires. The city is a shabby and suffocating hell for a passionate, self-destructive woman like Hester. It almost doesn’t matter that her husband is kindly and compassionate, or that lover Freddie is boorish, callow and insensitive. Neither of them is capable of giving Hester the life that she craves and that may be her tragedy. ‘Sad perhaps, but hardly Sophocles,’ she suggests.
The Deep Blue Sea is marbled with trademark Davies moments, from sentimental singsongs in corner pubs to a lengthy sequence set to the throbbing emotion of a Samuel Barber concerto. It is a film that consciously evokes the heartbreak of a Bette Davis melodrama, the clipped, brittle wit of a Noël Coward comedy and the lost England of Brief Encounter. It is unashamedly old-fashioned and undoubtedly too mannered for many modern tastes. Staunch admirers of Davies however will be thrilled by his long overdue to return to film drama and this luscious proof that he has lost his understanding neither of the human heart nor the unreliable nature of love.
Selected release from Fri 25 Nov.