Saturday, February 13, 2016

'The Deep Blue Sea': Melancholy portrait of a self-destructive woman

Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston as Hester Collyer and Freddie Page, the charmer for whom she leaves a caring husband. Music Box Films
Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston as Hester Collyer and Freddie Page, the charmer for whom she leaves a caring husband. Music Box Films
About the movie
The Deep Blue Sea
Drama; Romance
MPAA rating:
for a scene of sexuality and nudity
Running time:
Release date:
Harry Hadden-Paton; Ann Mitchell; Tom Hiddleston; Simon Russell Beale; Rachel Weisz
Directed by:
Terence Davies

The beautiful misery of The Deep Blue Sea - Terence Davies' crushing adaptation of Terence Rattigan's 1952 play - is almost too much.

Here is Hester Collyer (Rachel Weisz), a woman who basically throws her life away for the man she loves, and who she knows doesn't love her back.

Married to a magistrate in the London of the early '50s, with the memory - and rubble - of the war still everywhere, Hester falls for Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston), a high-strung charmer who frequents the pubs and can't stop yapping about his glory days in the RAF, fighting the "Jerries."

Hester and Freddie carry on a clandestine affair until, during a weekend visit to her mother-in-law's - a frightful and loathsome upper-cruster, played with frosty disdain by Barbara Jefford - Hester is found out. She's on the phone in the bedroom, back to the door, when her husband, Sir William (Simon Russell Beale), walks in and hears "I love you," spoken softly to someone else. You can see Sir William's heart sink, and you can see the resignation and resolve on Weisz's face - she will leave her older, wealthy, and caring spouse to live alone, waiting in a glum little rooming house for her lover to appear.

The Deep Blue Sea is shot in a gauze of melancholy. It's a meditation on self-destruction and desire, and Weisz gives a heartbreaking performance; her Hester spirals into doom, hungry for the physical pleasures she has found. The actress finds just the right balance: Nothing melodramatic here (and this is all so ripe for melodrama!), just stony fatalism, broken dreams, the terrible solitude, and lots of cigarettes.

Vivien Leigh played Hester Collyer in the 1955 film adaptation of Rattigan's drama. I haven't seen that version, and I'm curious to, but it's impossible now to imagine anyone but Weisz in the role.

Contact Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at


Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
Latest Videos:
Also on
letter icon Newsletter