A well-to-do husband who allows his wife to have affairs in order to avoid a divorce becomes a prime suspect in the disappearance of her lovers.
The erotic thriller had its moment back in the late 80s and early 90s (‘Fatal Attraction’, ‘Basic Instinct’, ‘Double Jeopardy’) and then seemingly went away (or disappeared to late night Channel 5 showings – for the UK crowd!), but ‘Deep Water’ is an attempt to revive the genre from a man who played a key part in its formation in Adrian Lyne, director of ‘Fatal Attraction’. He’s 80 now but still has the bug for directing erotic movies, and in this, his first film since 2002, he adapts a Patricia Highsmith novel about a man who allows his wife to have affairs, only to find himself the prime suspect when some of the men disappear. It stars Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas as the aforementioned husband and wife, who during filming started a relationship in real life as well.
I am a sucker for a psychological thriller and I was a big fan of this film and its pulpy stylings, and was there for every one of its developments even as they became increasingly far fetched and ridiculous. Affleck plays Vic Van Allen (a name that could only be found in movies!), a retired robotics engineer who was responsible for inventing a chip used in combat drones, and de Armas plays his wife Melinda, an extrovert who has grown bored with the passive demeanour of Vic. In order to avoid divorce and keep their family together, he allows her to seek out other lovers (which she does A LOT), something which she flaunts in front of him causing Vic to become increasingly jealous. I still can’t decide if Affleck is good or wooden here as he plays Vic with a cool detachment that can appear stilted but feels very in keeping with the character, whereas de Armas was practically born to play seductive roles such as this. They don’t have much chemistry with each other (curious given their real-life relationship), but I suspect this is part of the point.
For those familiar with the works of Patricia Highsmith (‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ perhaps the most prominent), the material covered here will feel familiar, and in Adrian Lyne, we have a man well versed in building up a creeping tension and using shots of seemingly random things like running water to hint at darker things coming. He’s filled his cast with some familiar faces, with Tracy Letts as a ‘friend’ who also suspects Vic of murder the most prominent in story terms, and has added a score by Marco Beltrami that is bordering on the melodramatic. Look, this is not by any means subtle and the psychological elements never delve much further than the surface, but I did find it an enjoyable ride and I did find myself really entertained by ‘Deep Water’.
Directed By: Adrian Lyne
Starring: Ben Affleck, Ana de Armas, Tracy Letts, Dash Mihok, Grace Jenkins, Rachel Blanchard, Lil Rel Howery, Jacob Elordi, Finn Wittrock and Kristin Connolly