- Hamish Hart
Deep Water (2022) Review
DESPITE possessing a compelling premise and an even more alluring leading duo in the form of Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas, Deep Water falls in shallow waters, never rising above director Adrian Lyne's (Fatal Attraction) known expertise for creating engaging, well-paced - and above all - interesting films.
Based on the novel of the same name, Deep Water follows Vic (Ben Affleck) and Melinda (Ana de Armas) as their tenuous relationship struggles to stay alive due to each side wanting different goals out of their mundane, repetitious lives. An already tumultuous situation becomes more complicated when rumours circulate that Vic was responsible for the murder of one of Melinda's close friends, leading to a web of lies and deceit which never truly gets resolved by the end of this monotonous lover's quarrel.
Director Adrian Lyne hasn't made a feature film in over 20 year - and it really shows; Lyne was clearly only brought onto this project due to his superb work directing 1987's Fatal Attraction. Despite proving himself as a satisfactory filmmaker with the 1980s cult classic, Lyne has failed to make a meaningful impact in the years following. The film shouldn't be compared to Lyne's Fatal Attraction, but considering how similar the two stories are, an unhappy couple looking to escape the reality of each other's company through sadistic tendencies, it's hard not to draw similarities and, therefore, compare the two. Deep Water also never really gets going, failing to flush out a coherent plot and being more pretentious with its presentation. There are many films out there that manage to excel despite its snobbish nature, but Deep Water doesn't earn any of it, plodding along until the underwhelming climax which asks more questions rather than answering any of the pre-established ones.
The film is incredibly fortunate it was able to land Affleck and Armas in the leading roles as their mere presence should enhance what is an incredibly bland feature, but even their immense talents aren't able to save Deep Water. Ana de Armas was easily the standout performance, embracing the role of a cheating wife with sass and charm and you could tell Armas had a blast playing off Affleck, who despite usually being exceptional in these kind of roles, came off bland and bored throughout majority of the film. The child actress paired alongside Affleck and Armas for much of the movie was also exceptionally bad, attempting to come off as cute, but was a victim of poor direction as she was easily the worst aspect of an already terrible experience due to her obnoxious personality which never came off as being intentional or beneficial to the overarching story.
There are a plethora of awful things I could state about Deep Water, but if I did, I would be stuck in a never-ending cycle of repetition - much like this film. Adrian Lyne attempts to reignite the flame he started from Fatal Attraction, but ironically, he douses the spark with Deep Water. Despite Affleck and Armas having moments of greatness sprinkled throughout, Deep Water carries too much baggage in order to be carried by the leading duo's talent. Poor direction from Lyne and an even worse script from Sam Levinson and Zach Helm results in a tedious experience that isn't worth watching even for some ironically funny moments. If Deep Water were created as a mini-series rather than a feature film, it could've had time to flush out its potential greatness, but for what it is, the film is a disappointing return for who was once one of Hollywood's best directors.