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In this taut psychological thriller, picture-perfect married couple Vic and Melinda play dangerous mind games with each other as they struggle to maintain a healthy relationship. It all takes a turn for the worse when a slew of disappearances surrounding Melinda puts Vic in hot water with the authorities.
Ben Affleck (Gone Girl), Ana de Armas (Knives Out), and Lil Rel Howery (Get Out) star. It was directed by veteran thrill-master Adrian Lyne (Fatal Attraction and Indecent Proposal).
Adrian Lyne’s direction plays heavily on the ambiguity and difficulties of marriage. Much like his previous films (Fatal Attraction and Indecent Proposal), the lead characters are caught in a game of passion, desire, and ultimately deception. Deep Water is consistent with Lyne’s style, utilizing camera work, tension, and tone to create deeply immersive scenes. We see this especially in the film’s murder scenes, which offer great perspective.
Ana de Armas as Melinda is charming and flirtatious, but also manipulative and commanding. While being fun (and the life of everyone else’s party), she plays on the emotions of Vic, making him miserable and stoking an internal rage. She uses booze, her social life, and other men she identifies as “close friends” to escape this life in which she feels captive. It’s a performance that resembles De Armas’ role as Bel in Knock, Knock.
Often, Melinda makes it clear that she loves her family, but she also feels this dull life has been forced on her. Her desire for Vic to display some emotional reaction or passion towards her becomes apparent during their tense arguments. Her actions are questionable and could be considered disrespectful, but, like Vic, she’s struggling to have her needs met. The relationship leaves her wanting for more.
Vic is a complicated character; in the beginning, he seems like a mild-mannered successful engineer who allows his wife to take advantage of him. She parades other men around Vic and his friends, mocking him at almost every turn. You can’t help but feel sorry for Vic and just know he’s on the verge of a mental breakdown or violent outburst. But his stoic behavior makes it impossible to know what’s going on in his head. Affleck’s portrayal is scary and his presence in most scenes is physically imposing, but mostly through the character’s quiet nature.
There is much complexity to the relationship of Vic and Melinda; at times, they seem like enemies whose love has dissolved. Other moments, although brief, are passion-filled, and we see the two exist as a loving couple. You could argue both have the same goal but have no idea how to achieve it. With Melinda’s questionable male friendships and Vic’s disturbing jealousy, the two make for a very toxic couple, setting a poor example for their daughter.
Lil Rel Howery and Dash Mihowk provide a little comedy relief in such a serious film, giving the audience a break from its solemn tone. Their screen time is brief but makes up for Vic’s lack of animation.
As the stakes of these mind games increase, driving up the suspense, it becomes clear which of the two is the most dysfunctional. The climax of this film will give a whole new meaning to the phrase “toxic relationship.” It’s definitely worth your time.
Deep Water is a love letter to the erotic psychological thriller genre, and few directors do it better than Adrian Lyne. It just may leave the viewer sleeping with one eye open.
A group of friends, so you are not yelling at the screen alone! Fans of Fatal Attraction and Indecent Proposal will undoubtedly enjoy this movie.
Deep Water is based on the 1957 novel of the same name by celebrated author Patricia Highsmith, who is also known for The Talented Mr. Ripley.