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Mar 20th 2012, 09:28

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offlineScottferguson
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The likely best reviewed film to open this week, and also the one perhaps most likely to be contesting top Oscar categories is The Deep Blue Sea.

From Terence Davies, one of the few British directors these days to not serve up pablum that doesn't challenge viewers in any way, this is a very cinematic adaptation of a previously filmed play by Terence Ratigan (The Winslow Boy, The Browning Version, Separate Tables), and for me is by far the best of them. Totally transformed into Davies' vision of a decades-past bleak England (previous seen in Distant Voices Still Lives,  The Long Day Closes, Of Time and the City) with Rattigan's seemingly more middle-brow story becoming a pungeant and acerbic tale of characters who, despite all odds, remain sympathetic if tragic. 

Central to the success of the film is Davies' handling of the actors. When this screened at Toronto last year, these was immediate talk of Rachel Weisz' contending for a best actress nomination. Delayed a year, she now becomes, with Jennifer Lawrence, the first serious candidate for 2012.

I'll start posting reviews over the next couple days. It opens in non-exclusive runs in the NY/LA & Miami areas this Friday, then across the country over the next few weeks.     

 

Mar 20th 2012, 13:29

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Looking forward to it.. I find Rachel Weisz to be a heckuva lot better than most do on this site.
Mar 20th 2012, 13:34

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The New Yorker website is for subscribers only, but the review by David Denby of THE DEEP BLUE SEA says it is "a sombre and powerful movie... and Rachel Weisz, with her downward-turning mouth and anxious smile, is extremely moving... Sex is the subtext of everything that happens, yet this may be one of the least erotic movies ever made. It's stern and noble, very much in the [Terence] Ratigan spirit."

Mar 20th 2012, 15:03

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Lovers Try to Stay Above Water in The Deep Blue Sea AAAComments By Nick Pinkerton Wednesday, Mar 21 2012

The Deep Blue Sea, the first fiction feature in a dozen years from the visionary British director Terence Davies, is a film about love that in no way reassures that love conquers all. Plumbing disquieting depth, Deep Blue Sea investigates the insoluble dilemma of romantic love: the expectation, contrary to experience, that we can or will find every quality that we want in a single person.

Lady Hester Collyer (Rachel Weisz) has left her husband, high court judge Sir William (Simon Russell Beale)—and a life of cultured conversation and posh fireside comfort amid postwar deprivation—to live in slummy sin with Freddie (Tom Hiddleston), an emotionally immature former RAF pilot who survived the Battle of Britain but never readapted to civilian life, and whose lovemaking has irreparably shaken up the foundations of Hester’s existence. “Beware of passion, Hester. It always leads to something ugly,” Sir William’s mother, an astringent Barbara Jefford, warns. “What would you replace it with?” retorts Hester—a succinct summary of the central problem of The Deep Blue Sea.

Details The Deep Blue Sea
Written and directed by Terence Davies
NBC Gramercy Pictures
Opens March 23 Like this Story?

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The film is based on a 1952 work by the once-prominent British playwright Terence Rattigan, previously filmed with Vivien Leigh in 1955, directed for the stage by social-realist filmmaker Karel Reisz in ’92, and, as Davies’s production began, successfully touring the English provinces. Like Davies, Rattigan was a gay man raised in a society that did not allow such things to be openly spoken of—so both men share an intimate understanding of illicit or “antisocial” love. Otherwise, Davies, who prefers to look at life through the scrim of memory, has made The Deep Blue Sea very much his own, breaking up Rattigan’s front-loaded exposition, revealing the characters instead through fragmentary scenes, images that bob like jetsam across the rushing surface of his heroine’s mind: lovers' quarrels followed by tender moments of commiseration, a sing-along of “Molly Malone” in a tube-station shelter during the Blitz (one of the simultaneous expressions of public and personal feeling through popular song that runs through Davies’s filmography).

Traveling up a still bomb-scarred, grubby West London street, the opening shot climbs a terrace boarding house to the third-story window, beyond which is a musty-brown bedroom that has been quietly eroding since Edwardian times, where Hester has decided to end her life in front of the gas fireplace.

In the aftermath of the botched attempt, Hester recalls the events that have led her here, establishing the pattern of alternating between the present-tense drama of Hester and Freddie’s affair in its final dissolution—accompanied by the re-emergence of Sir William—and its history. Davies as much conducts as adapts Rattigan’s play—the slow tick of Hester’s mantle clock is a metronome, leading into Samuel Barber’s thrilling, harrowing violin concerto, a full nine minutes of which soundtrack the story of Hester’s social rebellion, outlined in a few abridged flashbacks. The presiding aesthetic is the monochrome austerity of Britain under-rationing, with a luxuriant sensuality bleeding through, as in Hester’s claret-red coat or the smoke of her cigarettes purling through a sunbeam.

Davies and his cast create the rare triangular affair where every side of the triangle is drawn with equal care and sympathy, where each party’s hopes—and their disappointments—are eloquently understood. After Sir William’s anger cools, he again becomes considerate “Bill” to Hester, showing something of a little boy’s nose-wrinkling twinkle in his white-whiskered face. The relatively youthful Hiddleston has no such childishness, but conveys the helpless distress of causing pain merely by being one’s self.

Weisz is 10 years younger than Beale and 10 years older than Hiddleston—true to the age differences in Rattigan’s play, though she looks youthful enough to alter the intended dynamic. Nevertheless, her performance of abject sulk broken by cloud breaks of radiant joy is in perfect harmony with the film’s shifting atmosphere. Reviewing the first staging of The Deep Blue Sea, drama critic Kenneth Tynan concluded: “[Rattigan] has stated the case for [Hester’s] death so pungently that he cannot argue her out of the impasse without forfeiting our respect. He ekes out ingeniously, lecturing her about the necessity of sublimating her impulses in painting and going to a good art school.” Here Davies gives Hester no such loophole escape, but instead allows her a stoical endurance that commands our respect. Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, she can only abide—which, in the film’s terms, is the nearest thing to victory that life affords.

 

Mar 21st 2012, 20:15

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Rave review from Lisa Schwartzbaum/EW


Movie Review The Deep Blue Sea (2012) Reviewed by | Mar 21, 2012 EW's GRADE A Details Limited Release: Mar 23, 2012; Length: 98 Minutes; Genres: Drama, Romance; With: Rachel Weisz; Distributor: Music Box Films

Passion defies reason in The Deep Blue Sea. And in this typically exquisite, nuanced, memory-infused work from master British filmmaker Terence Davies (The House of Mirth), we believe every minute of the torment of Hester (Rachel Weisz), a cultivated woman who's married (passionlessly) to a solicitous magistrate named Sir William (Simon Russell Beale) but is helplessly in thrall to Freddie (Tom Hiddleston from War Horse and Thor), a younger, drink-prone chap who will never love her the way she does him. Never mind. Hester leaves her marriage for Freddie. She abandons upper-class comfort to move in with him, and when he forgets to be home on her birthday — golf with his mates was what he fancied — she tries to gas herself to death in their dinky flat. (That's no spoiler. It happens in the first scene.)

Davies adapted The Deep Blue Sea from the 1952 play of the same name by Terence Rattigan as part of the centenary celebration of the late British playwright. It's easy to see why the material spoke to the director: With his painterly filmmaking style, his characteristic interest in the intersection between longing and restraint, and his ongoing fascination with the early postwar England of his own childhood, Davies has been able to shape the stage play to his strengths, telling the story from Hester's point of view. It helps that Weisz, in one of her finest performances, opens herself beautifully to vulnerability and folly. It's also important that, as played by Beale and Hiddleston, no man is the villain.

In interviews, Davies has given aesthetic shout-outs to both the movies of Doris Day and the quintessentially British thwarted-passion drama from 1945, Brief Encounter. The muted yet rich palette of Deep Blue Sea, the calm compositions and the gently flowing pace, though, are all his. Collectors of perfect tracking shots will be thrilled by one in a tube station during the Blitz. And fans of Davies since his early, autobiographical films Distant Voices, Still Lives, and The Long Day Closes will appreciate the inclusion of one of his favorite time-capsule gestures: a warm pub scene in which every patron, young and old, joins in singing popular tunes. So very British and so very much a lost era. A

 

 

Mar 21st 2012, 20:40

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Quote by Dannyboy
Looking forward to it.. I find Rachel Weisz to be a heckuva lot better than most do on this site.


I really like Rachel Weisz as well. I thought she was fantastic in the little-seen "The Whistleblower." I also thought she deserved her Oscar for "The Constant Gardener." I`m looking forward to seeing this film.
Mar 21st 2012, 20:49

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She's fine in the film, Davies used her well, but I knew when I started this thread the main interest would be her. She is only a small part (although in a big role) and a contributor to the success of this film, but her importance overall is minor as is normal for any actor. The film is Terence Davies' triumph, and if people are looking for someone to wish well for awards (which aren't really that important), he'd be the place to start.

Sorry for the random rant, and it's not directed to btimp, but I find it so depressing how the overwhelming majority of the interest seems to be in acting, particularly actresses, when their part in the big picture is relatively minor. Weisz isn't the only person who could have played the role and make it successful, but if Davies hadn't adapted and directed this, it would be a vastly different film. It is him work that deserves 90% of the attention.  

 

Mar 21st 2012, 21:00

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Quote by Scottferguson
She's fine in the film, Davies used her well, but I knew when I started this thread the main interest would be her. She is only a small part and a minor contributor to the success of this film, as good as she is. The film is Terence Davies' triumph, and if people are looking for someone to wish well for awards (which aren't really that important), he'd be the place to start.

Sorry for the random rant, and it's not directed to btimp, but I find it so depressing how the overwhelming majority of the interest seems to be in acting, particularly actresses, when their part in the big picture is relatively minor. Weisz isn't the only person who could have played the role and make it successful, but if Davies hadn't adapted and directed this, it would be a vastly different film. It is him work that deserves 90% of the attention.  


I know what you are saying Scott. Believe me, I don`t just look at the acting in a film. I really do look at a film as a whole. I was just agreeing with what dannyboy had previously posted. Maybe I shouldn`t have put anything because I know my post led to your response. 
Mar 21st 2012, 21:09

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Nothing wrong with your post. No problem with any individual post. It's just if this thread has a life ahead, most of the discussion is going to be about Weisz. Now that the Streep discussion is finally dying down, contenders for next year's best actress category are going to need to fill the void.

It's just easier to talk about acting than anything, even if most of the comments are just people of approving of the type of persona that is conveyed, not really about the performance, which few if any of us are really have the ability to analyze, not being experts in acting, less so film acting, and with all film acting to a large extent being the creation of the director, cinematographer and the editor.

Adam Sandler is dominating the ridiculous Razzies this year. Why does Adam Sandler get a bad rap? It's not so much based on his acting talent (if he didn't have some talent, he wouldn't be a success, and no, I am not saying he is a great actor or better than this person or that). But Adam Sandler is denounced because of the kind of characters he is playing, their being infantile and goofy and not aimed at most people here. How well he plays them is irrelevant..

But I know I'm a small minority. In my ideal world, the Oscars would have no awards for acting for a performance each year, but rather add several people to a hall of fame each year based on totality of a career.           

 

Mar 21st 2012, 23:04

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Quote by Scottferguson

Nothing wrong with your post. No problem with any individual post. It's just if this post has a life ahead, most of the discussion is going to be about Weisz. Now that the Streep discussion is finally dying down, contenders for next year's best actress category are going to need to fill the void.

It's just easier to talk about acting than anything, even if most of the comments are just people of approving of the type of persona that is conveyed, not really about the performance, which few if any of us are really have the ability to analyze, not being experts in acting, less so film acting, and with all film acting to a large extent being the creation of the director, cinematographer and the editor.

Adam Sandler is dominating the ridiculous Razzies this year. Why does Adam Sandler get a bad rap? It's not so much based on his acting talent (if he didn't have some talent, he wouldn't be a success, and no, I am not saying he is a great actor or better than this person or that). But Adam Sandler is denounced because of the kind of characters he is playing, their being infantile and goofy and not aimed at most people here. How well he plays them is irrelevant..

But I know I'm a small minority. In my ideal world, the Oscars would have no awards for acting for a performance each year, but rather add several people to a hall of fame each year based on totality of a career.           



The reason Adam Sandler is dominating the Razzies this year is because neither he nor his movies are funny.  And yes, that certainly indicates a bad actor, or at least a bad comedian.

The Razzies aren't "ridiculous," what's ridiculous is Adam Sandler makes untold millions of dollars serving up shit movies.

Also, your opinion that the members on this website are unable to judge acting is snobbish, condescending and insulting.

Mar 21st 2012, 23:30

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Thanks Vamp, you really hit the nail on the coffin.

I didn`t want to put anything, but I did believe that post was pretty condescending, that`s why I didn`t even bother responding to it. Maybe I should have responded, but it`s just not my style.

Scott might think I`m an idiot, but that`s okay. Scott has an opinion just like everybody else, and I respect it. It`s not going to change how I feel about a film or performance though.

There have been a couple of Sandler performances I`ve enjoyed, but the majority of them have been bad for me.

Mar 22nd 2012, 01:27

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@Vamp & Btimp- I have to agree on the condescending portion, and I myself have called SF out on it before in the past. However, I'm not trying to gang up on you SF, but it is something you do whether you notice or you mean to. I know you've defended yourself in the past, and no doubt you will again, but that's just how I see it.
Mar 22nd 2012, 05:06

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Amen Tye-Grr!!!!!!!!!
Mar 22nd 2012, 10:13

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I deleted a longer, repetitive post. To be shorter:


1) It is my fault if it was unclear, but my point - which I think a careful reading of what I wrote will prove - is that NO ONE can really judge an individual performance that easily, at least in terms of crediting the individual actor involved. Film acting is the product of the director as much or more than the actor in my opinion. Thus, when this thread likely becomes mainly a discussion of Weisz and her Oscar chances rather than the elements in the film itself, it frustrates me.


2) Nothing I wrote can be said to remotely indicate I think Btimp is an idiot. Both my points specifically said I was making a greater point, that it was coincidental what I wrote came after his post. That's just unfair to suggest that I did. And the greater point is about everyone - including me - not being able to really judge acting that easily.


3) I wouldn't necessarilly agree, but Adam Sandler is a successsful - very successful - actor because an awful lot of people think he's funny. To dismiss everyone who does as though they are wrong is in itself condescending to them, like they are wrong in their opinions. We all do things like this, but let's be honest - that's what it is.


4)  I'd love to debate the issue I raised. None of the posts in response did, but rather got into an attack mode over something that I never said. I deserve some of the blame for that, I'll accept. But people who misread my posts also share responsibility.           

 

Mar 22nd 2012, 15:45

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Very good NY times review


March 22, 2012 Movie Review A Heart Needs One Thing, Society Wants Another By

“I thought, I know what this one is about,” Terence Davies said at a recent screening of his new film, “The Deep Blue Sea,” adapted from a play by Terence Rattigan. He was explaining why, when he was invited by the Rattigan Trust to film one of that playwright’s works, he had chosen this 1952 tale of adultery and romantic despair. (It was previously brought to the screen in 1955, starring Vivien Leigh in a role performed, in Mr. Davies’s version, by Rachel Weisz.)

This compact rendering — at once feverish and meticulous in its calibration of wanton emotions — proves just how deep Mr. Davies’s knowledge goes. Like most good plays “The Deep Blue Sea” is about many things. It is, in the most literal sense, about England in the years just after World War II, a period of weary austerity and quiet hope that Mr. Davies, born in Liverpool in 1945, has returned to again and again in the course of his filmmaking career. His autobiographical masterpieces “Distant Voices, Still Lives” (1988) and “The Long Day Closes” (1993) evoke, from a child’s point of view, the pleasures and anxieties of a time when Britain, still traumatized by the war, seemed poised uneasily between the old and the new.

(New Yorkers can see “Distant Voices” on Friday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which is concluding a retrospective of Mr. Davies’s films. “The Long Day Closes” will run for a week at Film Forum starting on Wednesday.)

Rattigan was one of the dominant British literary figures of that era, though his reputation faded in subsequent decades, eclipsed by angry young men, kitchen-sink realists and a flamboyant avant-garde. Mr. Davies, an unabashed nostalgist for pre-’60s, unswinging England — he memorably trashes the Beatles in “Of Time and the City,” his 2008 love letter to Liverpool — lovingly recalls the dust, the chintz, the popular songs and the women’s fashions of the old days. He also has an intuitive understanding of the strong feelings that lie beneath the dusty decorum and constrained behavior before the language of sexual liberation and personal fulfillment (to say nothing of feminism) had entered the lexicon of the Western democracies.

That too is what “The Deep Blue Sea” is about: a woman’s attempt to live by the dictates of her heart rather than the expectations of society. It is also, for both Terences, about a gay man’s sympathetic identification with such a woman — a vicar’s daughter, a gentleman’s wife and a soldier’s lover who suffers like an operatic heroine. And so, to put the matter perhaps more abstractly than such a sensual film deserves, it is about the fate of untameable, irrational desire in a world that does not seem to have a place for it.

The story, told in associative patterns rather than chronological order, is a fairly ordinary, even banal, love triangle. Hester (Ms. Weisz) is married to a dull, decent older man, Sir William Collyer (Simon Russell Beale), who has, in addition to a title, an insufferable mother (Barbara Jefford). Eventually William discovers that Hester is having an affair with Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston), a dashing former pilot who seems, at least as we first encounter him, the dreamy antithesis of his stolid rival.

But things are not so simple. The film begins with Hester attempting suicide, and it drifts — or rather, leaps, writhes and swoons, propelled by Samuel Barber’s gloriously anguished Concerto for Violin and Orchestra — backward and forward from that ambiguous event, assembling the fragments of her wounded, yearning self. With William she was Lady Collyer. In the shabby rooming house where she tries to restart (and then to end) her life, she is known as Mrs. Page, even though her husband has refused to grant her a divorce.

Neither the noble nor the respectable lower-middle-class identity is enough for her, and whatever their class positions, both men are morally and spiritually beneath her. It becomes clear over time that Freddie, for all his vigor and bonhomie, is shallow and fickle, forever stuck in the war that was, for all its horror, his finest hour. Hester not only seems aware of his flaws but also acknowledges the asymmetry of their affections. He does love her, but not with anywhere near the same the absolute, unreasoning devotion.

That love is what Mr. Davies’s version of “The Deep Blue Sea” is, in the end, most ardently and specifically about. The social and psychological particulars, and the wonderful period details, are part of the background. And Mr. Hiddleston and Mr. Beale, disciplined and sensitive actors though they are, exist in the penumbra of Ms. Weisz’s incandescence.

Mr. Davies has composed the film very much around her, to the extent that even the colors and textures of Florian Hoffmeister’s cinematography seem to flicker and intensify according to her shifting moods. And Ms. Weisz, for her part, gives Hester a full melodramatic coloration without overdoing, conveying the essential split in the character’s nature. She is at once a sensible, capable, intelligent Englishwoman and a mad, keening martyr for love.

Or at least that is what she wants to be. There is an element of deliberate, knowing romanticism in Hester that is both supported and undermined by Mr. Davies and Ms. Weisz’s understanding of her. In her attempted suicide, in her rash, headlong commitment to Freddie, in her moments of stoicism as well as her bouts of hysteria she seems to be willing herself into a state of tragic grandeur that her circumstances do not entirely support. Which may be the saddest thing about her.