Thursday, 3 January 2013

REVIEW - THE DEEP BLUE SEA


In The Deep Blue Sea, Terence Davies' adaptation of Terence Rattigan's play, we too are caught. Our heroine, played by Rachel Weisz in a deeply affective performance, claims to feel 'caught between the devil and the deep blue sea'. And there seems not a breath of life in post-war London's dark, ravaged streets, nor in the close, dimly lit interiors, smoky pubs, smoky flats. Desperate Hester Collyer has not the will nor the energy to allow her fickle emotions to surge up and consume her and all around her; she allows them to trickle out, rotting away at the stagnancy in her life, stagnancy she lets develop, her mind always somewhere else. Her mind is searching itself - she is unsure of whom she is, whom she wants to be, and she changes so often, without warning either to those close to her or even to herself. In this millennium, she would be described as a woman, just. There is nothing so remarkable about her character. But she, lacking the skill and/or the desire to suppress her emotion, no matter how damaging it may prove to be when expressed, is out of place in this city in this era. Rattigan and Davies evidently have the utmost respect for her - others are devoted to her, and in casting Rachel Weisz, who is surely impossible to dislike, Hester assumes the demeanour of a classic, tragic heroine of the stage, all imperfect, and perfect in her imperfection. Weisz never plays her as such, though, and stresses her ordinariness throughout; when she erupts, if only momentarily, it's riveting. Visually, spatially, Davies establishes a languorous, claustrophobic sensation that is effective, and most evocative, from beginning to end. Tonally, it's in the doldrums, exactly where it ought to be, but Davies can't shift the literariness of much of Rattigan's prose, which is occasionally a little too invasive and descriptive - it cuts through the intimacy, rather than enhancing it.