Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Best Films of 1012: #10

Rachel Weisz delivered her most feeling performance to date in Terence Davies' "The Deep Blue Sea," an exceedingly simple yet powerfully poignant postwar story of romantic love so intense and obsessive it becomes the undoing of an intelligent and well-provided-for woman. Weisz’s Hester Collyer is the wife of a respected judge (Simon Russell Beale), but passion has escaped the marriage. He’s sober and undemonstrative; she’s headstrong and ahead of her time, and in need of an outlet for her pent-up sexuality. When that outlet arrives in the form of Freddie, a handsome young RAF pilot, and their affair is inevitably discovered, Hester leaves her uncomprehending husband, explaining without any cruelty that her love for this new man encompasses nothing less than the whole of her. As her world narrows down to him, though, Freddie begins to suffocate, turning to drink and nights out with friends to escape.

It takes courage to make an earnest, deeply felt film about nothing more complicated than love, though uncomplicated does not imply that Terence Rattigan's 1952 play is without depth or subtlety. Rather, it's up to the cast to educe the layers of emotion, and Beale and Weisz are up to the task. Beale's a marvel of British delicacy as William Collyer, a loving and forgiving man who can't understand why his wife would abandon their marriage and her station in society for a love that, though at first fully requited, is eventually not reciprocated. The film, though, belongs to Weisz, who brooks no animus toward William - she continues to like him, so very much - but insists she is helpless to countermand her feelings.

Some of the feelings the film evokes are quite raw. Have you ever felt so strongly for someone that you would say anything to get them to stay with you? That you - smart, sensible you - didn't know what you might do if they left you alone for the night? If so, then "The Deep Blue Sea" may leave a lump in your throat as it did in mine.

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