Combustible Celluloid
With: Ben Affleck, Ana de Armas, Tracy Letts, Grace Jenkins, Dash Mihok, Rachel Blanchard, Kristen Connolly, Jacob Elordi, Lil Rel Howery, Brendan C. Miller, Jade Fernandez, Finn Wittrock, Michael Braun, Devyn A. Tyler, Michael Scialabba
Written by: Zach Helm, Sam Levinson, based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith
Directed by: Adrian Lyne
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, nudity, language and some violence
Running Time: 115
Date: 03/18/2022

Deep Water (2022)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Snail Fail

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A cheesy erotic thriller from a veteran of the genre, and based on a Patricia Highsmith novel, sounded like movie gold, but the end result is beyond cheesy, and more like eye-rollingly ridiculous.

Vic Van Allen (Ben Affleck) is a self-made millionaire, having invented a computer chip that helps drones find their targets. He's married to the beautiful Melinda (Ana de Armas), who enjoys drinking and throwing herself at various other men. He coolly tells one of her conquests that he, Vic, murdered one of her previous boyfriends.

At a party, Melinda openly flirts with a pianist, Charlie De Lisle (Jacob Elordi). It begins to rain, and everyone goes inside, but Charlie is found in the pool, drowned. It's not long before Melinda becomes interested in another man, an ex-boyfriend with whom she recently re-connected. In no uncertain terms, Vic murders him in cold blood and ditches the body in a gorge. But this time, he may have been too sloppy.

Adrian Lyne, the octogenarian director behind Fatal Attraction (1987), Indecent Proposal (1993), and Unfaithful (2002), returns after a 20-year gap with Deep Water. It begins well, setting up a simmering tension between Affleck and de Armas, both of whom seem committed to their roles; Affleck is chillingly stoic, while de Armas is recklessly sensual. But things quickly fall apart as we realize that this couple seems to do nothing except go to parties every night with the same people.

Not to mention that, no matter how broken up Melinda may seem over the loss of her most recent conquest, she immediately jumps back with a new one. There's no sense of time passing between events, or of anything building; everything seems reset at the beginning of every sequence. This is marked by Affleck's magical movie beard, which remains exactly the same length in every scene.

Moreover, attempts to build symbolism around Vic's collection of snails (?) and his daughter's love of "Old McDonald Had a Farm" simply hit a wall, and Deep Water begins to feel shallower and shallower as it heads toward its gloomy, pathetic conclusion.

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