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  • Hamish Hart

How Deep Is the Ocean (2023) Review

RATING: 6/10

AUSTRALIAN director Andrew Walsh debuts onto the filmmaking scene with his first feature film How Deep Is the Ocean. This competent character study, while immaculate at the simple stuff, attempts too many things at once when it should've stuck to what it does best: getting genuine laughs out of a mostly-dark dramedy; a difficult feat for any film to achieve let alone a debut one.

Young drifter Eleanor (Olivia Fildes) has moved from Adelaide to the busy streets of Melbourne where she has secured rent in a rundown boarding house with flatmate Roy (Cris Cochrane). As she struggles to adapt to her new life, Eleanor learns over the next year through a series of part-time jobs and stable relationships that life isn't always what you make of it and that the world will always keep on spinning - no matter how hard you may not want it to.

Created without the use of conventional scripts and storyboards, and with all the actors' dialogue being completely improvised, its safe to say that How Deep Is the Ocean could have failed straight from the get-go. However, this risky and atypical style of filmmaking is something that has to be admired. Director Andrew Walsh clearly put plenty of trust in his cast to create an engaging script, particularly lead actress Olivia Fildes whom does an exquisite job in her performance as lonesome drifter Eleanor. Fildes captures the feeling of isolation and bleakness wonderfully as life continually refuses to give the young traveller an inch, all leading to what is a pessimistic, true-to-life ending.

This Melbourne-made indie film features an abundant of sub-plots, some of which naturally blend into Eleanor's primary job search while others, particularly one traumatic event towards the end of act one, felt forced and completely out of left field. On one hand, this scene was effective in its presentation, showcasing a sense of realism by how horrible situations like these can occur without rhyme or reason.

But on the other side of things, the scene shifted the film's tone in an unnatural manner, resulting in a major emotional disconnect whenever the film attempted any moments of pure, unadulterated despair, especially when the cause and effect of this scene was all but handled in less than five minutes and never mentioned again. Thankfully, the film does make up for this missed opportunity by capitalising on its moments of happiness, presenting Eleanor's life in an exuberant manner through what felt like legitimate interactions; all of which translated perfectly from cast to characters.

Andrew Walsh's debut feature is a fantastic starting point for the Australian filmmaker. But while there are plenty of aspects which work in How Deep Is the Ocean's favour, they are all let down by needless plot points which feel like they belong in a different indie film. Boosted by authentic performances from the likes of Olivia Fildes, Cris Cochrane and Adam Rowland, this Melbourne-based indie film works when its being a genuine dramedy, but ironically begins to flounder the deeper Eleanor's troubled life goes.

However, How Deep Is the Ocean is still more than worth a watch if not for its amusing and relatable cast of characters.

How Deep Is the Ocean is available for purchase or rent at


About Me

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Born in Longreach in Central West Queensland, I have undertaken a number of prominent roles across the region such as Journalist and Digital Media for The Longreach Leader, as well as appearing on critically-acclaimed radio stations ABC Western Queensland and 4LG and West FM to discuss all things film.

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