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Deep Water (2022) Review: An Enjoyable Romantic Thriller That Features Fun Performances From Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas

March 16, 2022

Quick thoughts – Grade – B – Deep Water is a welcomely lurid thriller that harkens back to the days of Fatal Attraction and Indecent Proposal. The chemistry between Affleck and de Armas is excellent and it’s fun watching Affleck unleash a rarely seen threatening side that utilizes his size and laid-back demeanor well.

It’s been a while since the world was treated to a thriller involving a good looking and super wealthy married couple who have some wildly deep marital troubles. The couple Vic (Ben Affleck) and Melinda (Ana de Armas) live in an idyllic home, have a precocious six-year old daughter named Trixie, and are beyond wealthy as Affleck invented the guidance chip that guides drones used in military combat. On the surface, they seem like an ideal couple as Vic makes Melinda fruit juice in the morning and she packs their daughters carefully curated lunch. But, if you spend five minutes with them the facade crashes as they enjoy taunting, insulting and driving each other crazy (which they oddly seem to love).

Their biggest issue is that they have an open marriage that is mainly exploited by Melinda. She dates other men on the side and has no problem doing it in public. She even sends Vic upstairs to read their daughter an extra long bedtime book so she can party downstairs with one of her “friends.” Instead of speaking up, Vic internalizes just about everything (which Affleck is great at) and he goes outside to his terrarium where he seems totally at ease and calm while looking at his snails.

The open marriage makes things awkward as Affleck is made to look like a cuckold, and he hears about it from his friends who are always telling him about her exploits. Another issue is that when he dances with other women, it makes Melinda jealous which leads to more arguments and angry sex (which they both enjoy). Things are made worse when Vic threatens Melinda’s new friend by suggesting he’s the one who killed her former boyfriend. The news travels around town fast and becomes an issue when the body is found.

What follows would be a shame to spoil, just know there are several layers and several early surprises. It’s no surprise why Adrian Lyne (Fatal Attraction, Indecent Proposal) was brought in to direct, as he has a proven track record with romantic thrillers. With Deep Water he largely succeeds as he adds a classy vibe to the hokum and I’m certain several of the sex scenes will be talked about a lot on social media. However, the film lacks a certain dangerous element and thus rarely explodes off the screen. The cinematography by Eigil Bryld is occasionally solid as it knows what viewers want and does a fine job making Vic and Melinda’s large New Orleans house seem claustrophobic. My favorite shot might be when Affleck is watching de Armas and her friend from a dark hallway. The camera lingers on his large 6’4 frame as he watches them in a large mirror that hides him from sight. It’s during this moment that he comes across as a silent predator who may be more dangerous than his passive demeanor suggests.

Most importantly, the chemistry between Armas and Affleck is legit, and they do a great job driving each other crazy and playing mind games that haunt them later. It’s interesting to watch as they both underestimate each other multiple times as Vic doesn’t respect Melinda’s intelligence, and she takes too much pleasure in watching him squirm. Also, both are flawed as she orders from the kids menu to save room for alcohol and he willingly accepts the cheating and broods silently. There’s more I’m not saying, but I do think the cheese pieces are laid out well by Zach Helm and Sam Levinson who adapted the 1957 novel Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith (who also wrote the excellent thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley) into a fun screenplay.

Final thoughts – Deep Water delivers the goods, but it isn’t dangerous enough to be memorable.

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