‘Deep Water’ movie review: A good-looking, soggy mess

Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas are bland in this adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1957 psychological thriller novel, directed even more blandly by Adrian Lyne

March 19, 2022 02:23 pm | Updated 02:28 pm IST

A still from ‘Deep Water’

A still from ‘Deep Water’ | Photo Credit: Claire Folger

Does  Deep Water signify the return of the erotic thriller? Adrian Lyne, who has helmed  Deep Water, is quite the master of the genre, having made such succulent lovelies in the ‘80s and 90s as  9½ Weeks (1986),  Fatal Attraction (1987) and  Indecent Proposal (1993).  Deep Water signals Lyne’s return to direction following 2002’s  Unfaithful

While  Deep Water is pulpy enough with sex and violence and excellent-looking people feverishly coupling or throwing sultry glances and/or punches at each other, there is none of that red heat, genuine chills or smarts you would expect from a Lyne film; he also made the mind-bending  Jacob’s Ladder (1990). 

Vic Van Allen (Ben Affleck) has retired after making a sack-full of money of some drone technology. He lives in a small town in Louisiana with his beautiful, temperamental, passionate wife, Melinda (Ana de Armas) and their daughter Trixie (Grace Jenkins).  

Deep Water
Director: Adrian Lyne
Cast: Ben Affleck, Ana de Armas, Tracy Letts, Lil Rel Howery, Dash Mihok, Finn Wittrock, Kristen Connolly, Jacob Elordi, Rachel Blanchard 
Storyline: A well-heeled couple play psychological games where the penalty for jealousy is death 
Run time: 115 minutes 

For someone so rich, living in a lovely house, there is a surprising lack of staff except for the baby sitter, who is called in when the Van Allens are visiting friends. For some weird reason, that is never properly explained (thereby not having us invest in the proceedings), Vic tolerates Melinda’s many infidelities.  

In the 1957 novel, the reason for Vic looking the other way at Melinda’s philandering was to avoid the messiness of divorce. It does not make sense in this day and age. Maybe Lyne could have introduced a watertight pre-nup or some other reason why the two had to stay together despite despising each other.  

Lyne has chosen the “jealousy as aphrodisiac” route, which is not very convincing either as it does not seem to ignite any sizzle under the Van Allen sheets. The movie opens with a mention of one of Melinda’s lovers, Martin, going missing. Vic jokingly tells Melinda’s present lover, Joel (Brendan C. Miller) that he killed Martin. Joel is scared enough to hoof it.  

Next, Melinda sets her roving eye on dishy piano player Charlie (Jacob Elordi) and there is also her first boyfriend, Tony (Finn Wittrock), who crawls out of the woodwork. The Van Allens’ friends do not seem to be real people so much as just there to fill the frames. There is also an author, Don Wilson (Tracy Letts) who suspects Vic, much to his wife’s embarrassment.  

The third act is plain silly with Vic tearing off here and there on his mountain bike. Affleck gives a blank look most of the time to signify his moral ambiguity, while de Armas spends most of her time pouting in lovely cocktail dresses and taking off her wicked stilettos. Without sex or smarts,  Deep Water is mainly a good-looking, but soggy mess.  

Deep Water is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video 

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