People are describing Deep Water as an erotic thriller. But this is like calling Carrot Top a great comedian. Yes, there may be some who enjoy his style as well as that as Rita Rudner and Paula Poundstone, but they can’t be mentioned in the same sentence as Bill Hicks, Chris Rock, George Carlin or Richard Pryror.
Released on Hulu recently and from 20th Century Studios, this is obviously Disney’s first erotic thriller since Color of Night. And even that film had more spice to it despite its outrageous plot that can best be described as a cross between Basic Instinct and The Crying Game. At least there was that sex sequence between Bruce Willis and Jane March that probably wore out so many VHS cassette tapes on its rental.
Even the scenes between Halle Berry and Billy Boy Thornton in Monster’s Ball were more erotic than this movie. This isn’t an erotic thriller in the way Mulholland Drive built the tension between Naomi Watts and Laura Elena Harring. This is Adrian Lyne’s first movie since the 2002 Unfaithful where he was able to film scenes between Diane Lane and Olivier Martinez that pushed the envelope.
The sex scenes in Deep Water are so few and short even if your parents were in the same room watching it with you, the embarrassment and unease would be non-existent because the scenes are over with so quickly, you don’t even realize what’s happening until it’s over.
But yes, let me assure many of you out there that Ana de Amas does get nude. But her nudity is handled in such a Disney censorship way, there’s no eroticism to it. True eroticism comes from tone and style. Roger Ebert said in his review of Showgirls that the more erotic scenes were when the characters kept their clothes on. And he was right.
It’s disappointing because Lyne has built his career on these type of movies. With Fatal Attraction, he made adultery seem forgettable. With movies like 9 1/2 Weeks, Indecent Proposal, Flashdance and the highly controversial Lolita, it was about what he didn’t show that added the erotic tension.
The plot here is actually based on a novel published by Patricia Highsmith in 1957. Ben Affleck plays a retired but wealthy former businessman named Vic Van Allen in the Louisiana town of Little Wesley. His much younger wife is Melinda (de Amas) and they have a young daughter, Trixie (Grace Jenkins). But there’s trouble in their marriage. To avoid divorce (and probably forfeiture of half of his assets in the settlement), Vic allows Melinda to have sex and relationships with much younger men.
At a party, her flirtation and even intimacy with a younger man are cause for concern by others and the gossip flies. At a later moment, Vic tells one of Melinda’s lovers about how he is responsible for the disappearance and murder of a man a year earlier. Of course, he says this kinda in a joking way but it gets around like a lot of things do in small towns. Later at another get-together when a resident, Don Wilson (Tracy Letts) meets Vic, he jokes about he’s the one who killed the missing man.
The casting of Affleck and de Amas as well as Letts and Kristen Connelly who plays Don’s wife, Kelly, should have been something the movie focused on more since both Affleck and Letts are at least 15 years older than the actresses playing their respective wives. It’s obvious that Vic and Melinda and possibly Don and Kelly are just in a marriage of convenience. They’re older men who spent their 20s and 30s fooling around making money and fortunes before settling down.
But there’s none of that here. At nearly two hours, this movie drags on for Vic and Melinda seem to argue more. If Lyne’s objective was to make Affleck and de Amas look like they have no chemistry together than he succeeds. But there’s nothing much here to elevate the plot about its Lifetime TV movie thriller plot.
The House of Mouse has too much of a stranglehold on the content level of its movies. I feel this is going to become a more serious problem for years to become. Or it could just be that since this is the first movie Lyne has directed in 20 years, he’s lost his touch. Or at 81, he’s become too much of an old-grouch.
What do you think? Please comment.