Affleck and the Armas in a fatal attraction

In a given week 30 years ago, among all the different comedies and action movies on your local multiplex, you were guaranteed to find at least one erotic thriller. In the days before Hollywood went all in on infinitely renewable IP, one of the most bankable concepts of American film was to throw two extremely attractive people together in a story with a lot of violence and a bit of R-rated nudity. Today, mainstream American movies are about as genderless as they have ever been since the days of the Hays Code. When those kinds of movies are made at all, they bypass the cinemas and go straight to streaming.

That’s what has happened Deep water despite the fact that its two very attractive stars, Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas, spent much of 2021 in a high-profile relationship, and the film was directed by Adrian Lyne, the man who made several of the most successful erotic thrillers, among others. a. Deadly attraction and 9 1/2 weeks. Even with the built-in advertising nooks, Deep water still sat on a shelf for over a year and a half and is now debuting on Hulu. The results made me nostalgic about a time when movies about adults in honest situations felt less like news, though Deep water in itself is not on par with Lynne’s most famous film.

Maybe the material is a little too stylish? Deep water is based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith about a troubled couple. In the film, they are Vic (Affleck) and Melinda (de Armas), who live in New Orleans with their young daughter. When the movie begins, Vic and Melinda are really only “together” in the legal sense; they share the same house, but not the same bedroom, and when attending parties with their affluent friends, she tends to find a young man to flirt with – or do much more than flirt – while he tumbles around from 6 p.m. the fringes laughing at his wife’s intoxicated exploits with her latest beauty.

Excerpts from dialogue make it clear that this behavior has been going on for some time. It also reveals that one of Melinda’s “friends” disappeared not so long before the events of Deep water, and that Vic likes to joke that he killed him. Then the dead guy’s dead body shows up, and Vic’s quarrels about crushing someone to death with a hammer seem less of a laugh. Yet none of his threats or intimidation seem to do anything to prevent Melinda from continuing to have fun with a number of handsome men.

As Deep water unfolds, and as Lyne reveals more of Vic and Melinda’s relationship, the less it seems like a simple case of a marriage that has gotten cold. There are hints that Melinda’s cheating is part of a game she’s playing with Vic, and that he might even get rid of it. Certainly, Affleck and the Armas have enough sex scenes in Deep water to satisfy viewers who are curious about their connection on screen after all their strangely captivating paparazzi images from the early days of the pandemic. And they have certainly chemistry together. It may be untraditional and a little disturbing chemistry, but it’s there.

But it is also one of the only things Deep water really exploring in every depth. Lyne shows us more and more of Vic and Melinda’s connection, but none of the characters really change during this dirty tale of jealousy and lust. Even as Affleck and the Armas pepper Deep water with intimate moments, it otherwise remains a fairly repetitive cycle of Melinda cheating, Vic-syder, a confrontation, and then it all starts all over again. Vic made so much money selling computer chips to the military that he retired as a young man; he has nothing to do but keep an eye on his wife’s outrageous two-timing and take care of his collection of snails – yes, live snails – which are mostly present so Affleck can use them as a practical metaphor for monogamy. or the animal nature of mankind.

Vic is a solid role for Affleck. He is already proven Away girl that he is good at playing emotionally opaque and potentially violent husbands, and Deep water lets him bend many of the same muscles again. De Armas may be the most beautiful woman working in Hollywood movies right now, but that part of Melinda does her less favors. Her character seems so ignorant of the warning signs around her and so uninvested in her marriage. Later scenes give us a little insight into Melinda’s ambiguous motifs, but not enough; you keep waiting for some sort of inventory that will make it clear exactly what is at stake between this husband and wife. But it never really happens.

Despite bad puns, there is something refreshing about it Deep water. If it had been released in 1992, there would have been so many other, better movies like it that it would have looked really bad. In 2022, films of this kind are so rare that I can almost forgive it Deep water‘s mistake just to remind me of that kind of stories able to told on the screen. Almost.

Additional thoughts:

-Tracy Letts has a small but very funny role as a writer who is the only person in Vic’s circle of friends who thinks he may be a killer. While the rest of Deep water played very seriously, Letts takes his character in a looser, campier direction – one there really would have suited the old Lyne movies, which were more emotionally charged roller coasters than this one. He may not quite fit in with the rest Deep waterbut he lives it up anyway.

-Ben Affleck does not have a good track record when it comes to movies he makes with his true romantic partners. True, he participated Shakespeare in love with Gwyneth Paltrow, and it was a hit and an Oscar winner. But then he made a crummy vovehals with future wife Jennifer Garner, and the disastrous one-to-punch of Lilies and Jersey girl with Jennifer Lopez. Deep water is at least much better than the flops.

MEANING: 5/10

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