Deep Water is an erotic thriller from director Adrian Lyne. It stars Ben Affleck, Ana de Armas, and has a slew of equally talented actors including Jacob Elordi, Rachel Blanchard, Finn Wittrock, Kristen Connolly, and Lil Rel Howery. The movie itself is a slow burn with tension and intrigue throughout.
The state of Vic (Affleck) and Melinda’s (de Armas) relationship is shown early, as they are seen going into different bedrooms. Their marriage is an unhealthy take on open relationships as Melinda is allowed to take in lovers while Vic is emotionally distant. They both want something from each other and are unwilling to give in to what the other person needs. Their unique dynamic takes a turn when he begins to play mind games with her. The overarching question soon turns from “What sort of relationship is this?” to “When will the other shoe drop?” Unfortunately, for some who like to read ahead, it might not feel like that shoe ever drops.
The acting is superb. Both Affleck and de Armas do an excellent job in their roles. de Armas drips with sexuality and is equal parts seductive and naïve. Anger and neglect seethe underneath her doe eyes. Affleck’s Vic is stoic and complex. There is an anger and jealousy underneath that stoicism due to what is unfolding in front of him. However, he is quick to show his soft side with his daughter Trixie (played by an adorable Grace Jenkins) and the various pets in the house.
That being said, it can be difficult to root for either of them. Melinda appears heartless as she toys with Vic’s emotions. Vic is distant and comes off as cold toward her even from the beginning. Yet, underneath all that resentment and jealousy, there is a genuine chemistry and attraction seen in their eyes when they gaze longingly at each other.
This is Lyne’s genre of choice as he is known for directing Fatal Attraction, Indecent Proposal, and Unfaithful. He does a good job keeping the tension as he dangles a multitude of different red herrings in front of the viewer’s eyes. The great thing about red herrings is that they are eventually explained, but this movie doesn’t explain anything. Great writers and directors don’t hold their audience’s hand by spending precious movie minutes explaining what is going on in agonizing detail. However, sometimes it can feel like the opposite is more agonizing, when too many questions are left unanswered.
Deep Water is an adaptation of a 1957 book of the same name, written by Patricia Highsmith (who also wrote The Talented Mr. Ripley). While the movie is filled with great actors who do a wonderful job, it feels like a superficial version of the story. There are plot points in the book which are missing from the movie. The ending also takes a different turn. When the story was first penned in 1957, divorce wasn’t as common. In the book, they agree to stay together for the family. However, the idea that this pair, who openly flaunt their turmoil in front of their daughter, want to stay together for the family feels almost silly in a time when divorce is much more common.
While not a “must see,” Deep Water is entertaining and not a horrible way to spend two hours.