Lou Lu­menick

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

EXQUISITELY pho­tographed and touch­ingly acted by Rachel Weisz, Ter­ence Davies’ The Deep Blue Sea turns the spot­light on a tragic ro­man­tic tri­an­gle and sex­ual re­pres­sion in early 1950s Eng­land.

This adap­ta­tion of a play by Ter­ence Rat­ti­gan – the mak­ing of a film based on an­other of his works was re­cently de­picted in My Week With Marilyn – opens with Hester (Weisz) turn­ing on the gas jets in the seedy flat where she’s been hav­ing an adul­ter­ous af­fair.

Hester is de­spair­ing be­cause her lover Fred­die, a feck­less EX-RAF pi­lot (Tom Hid­dle­ston), has for­got­ten her birth­day and gone on a ‘‘golf­ing week­end’’.

It’s just the lat­est in­di­ca­tion the self­ab­sorbed Fred­die can never love her with any­thing ap­proach­ing her ob­ses­sion for him.

Davies’ adap­ta­tion obliquely hints that fly­boy Fred­die may have sex­ual iden­tity is­sues but he re­mains a ci­pher.

The drama in­stead fo­cuses on Hester, whose sui­cide at­tempt is a cry for help that draws dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent re­sponses from men in her life.

An alarmed Fred­die pulls fur­ther away from the cling­ing Hester, who chases him through a se­ries of pubs.

Hester’s hu­mil­i­ated, im­age-con­scious older hus­band, a judge named Sir Wil­liam Col­lyer (Si­mon Rus­sell Beale in a solid, if stagey, per­for­mance), is at first an­gry at this turn of events.

Then he’s gen­uinely con­cerned about and ul­ti­mately emo­tion­ally gen­er­ous with a woman he clearly still loves.

There’s vivid sup­port­ing work by Ann Mitchell as the land­lady who in­ter­rupts Hester’s sui­cide, and Karl John­son as an ex-doc­tor whom she brings in to treat Hester on the QT (at­tempted sui­cide be­ing a pun­ish­able of­fence at the time).

Weisz’s stoic, sex­u­ally frus­trated and bor­der­line masochis­tic Hester isn’t as showy as Vivien Leigh’s per­for­mance in Ana­tole Lit­vak’s fine 1955 adap­ta­tion of the play.

Still, she does a fine, un­der­stated job within the pa­ram­e­ters of Davies’ stripped-down adap­ta­tion, which is too re­strained to pro­duce a fourhand­ker­chief clas­sic like Noel Coward and David Lean’s Brief En­counter.

Nor is Davies in­ter­ested in de­con­struct­ing 1950s fe­male-driven ro­man­tic melo­dra­mas as Todd Haynes did in Far From Heaven.

The im­age that sticks with you here is a smoky pub where the pa­trons are singing You Be­long to Me.

It’s a rare touch of irony in The Deep Blue Sea.

This is an arty drama that works best as an ex­tremely de­tailed evo­ca­tion of that by­gone era, when a shell­shocked Eng­land was still re­cov­er­ing from the wounds World War II en route to the swing­ing ’60s.

opens at The Arts Cen­tre Gold Coast to­day.

Tom Hid­dle­ston and Rachel Weisz star in

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