Deep Water: Neurotic, not very erotic and pretty pathetic return from Fatal Attraction director

Film review: Adrian Lyne’s ninth feature fails miserably to be any sort of good film

Deep Water
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Director: Adrian Lyne
Cert: Club
Genre: Thriller
Starring: Ben Affleck, Ana de Armas, Tracy Letts, Lil Rel Howery, Dash Mihok, Rachel Blanchard
Runing Time: 1 hr 55 mins

Kicked around the schedules for almost the entire pandemic, Adrian Lyne's ninth feature, finally arriving on Prime Video, fails to be at least two things. Noting Mr Lyne's past history with Fatal Attraction and Indecent Proposal, fans of the pre-millennial erotic thriller were eagerly anticipating a return to shagging on the sink and stabbing in the shower. Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas, who became romantically entwined during the shoot, were sure to mist up your spectacles something rotten.

The sex sequences feel bolted on after the film was finished. Get rid of them and we could have the awful thing finished in time for supper

However, Deep Water, despite what you may have read, is not an erotic thriller. This is not a comment on the stars' inert chemistry – although we will get to that – but an acknowledgement that the sex sits awkwardly on the action like, to quote Bob Dylan, a mattress balances on a bottle of wine. When Michael Douglas manoeuvred Glenn Close's fundament into the unwashed crockery, Fatal Attraction cranked up another two gears. The scene was central to the emotional orchestration. Here the sex sequences feel bolted on after the film was finished. Get rid of them and we could have the awful thing finished in time for supper.

More sacrilegiously, Deep Water fails as an adaption of a classic Patricia Highsmith novel (one of her very best). Vic and Melinda Van Allen have come to an awkward arrangement. Aware that he is unable to satisfy her sexually, Vic grudgingly accepts Melinda's affairs with other men in their small town. This being a Highsmith plot, he eventually cracks and bodies begin piling up. Nobody looks to have helped Affleck get to grips with the author's signature sociopath and, rather than appearing coldly ruthless, this cuboid-headed anti-hero comes across as a bored man queuing for an uninteresting clerical formality. You half expect him to check the number on his ticket to see when he can expect to make his passport inquiry. In contrast, de Armas cackles and torments like a 13-year-old trying to shock her parents after her first half-glass of Chardonnay.

As you may have already gathered, Deep Water also fails miserably to be any sort of good film. The closest thing we get to subtext comes when Melinda feeds an apple to her husband (don't make us explain that). The performers could hardly interact more damply if they were exchanging dialogue on Zoom from different continents. A final chase sequence is sufficiently ludicrous to play as an outtake from one of the 87 straight-to-streaming thrillers Bruce Willis made this year.

Mind you, the decision to update the bland, emotionally unavailable, blankly ruthless male lead into a tech billionaire was inspired. We will give them that.

On Prime Video from March 18th