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Ben Affleck & Ana de Armas save Deep Water from mediocrity
Adrian Lyne returns to directing following a two-decade hiatus with Deep Water from Hulu. An adaptation of prominent mystery writer Patricia Highsmith’s 1957 same-titled novel, Deep Water, introduces us to the Van Allen’s, Vic (Ben Affleck), and Melinda (Ana de Armas), who appear to be the picture-perfect couple. Vic is a millionaire tech genius enjoying the fruits of his labor while Melinda comes off as a trophy wife. However, the Van Allen’s have a deeper secret.
The marriage is relatively loveless, so Vic fully taps into the mindset of the Johnnie Taylor classic song “It’s Cheaper to Keep Her.” Vic allows Melinda to have all the sidepieces she wants, as long she does not leave her family. One night at a party, after learning that one of Melinda’s former lovers mysteriously died, Vic encounters Melinda’s current lover. Vic hopes to scare away Melinda’s recent fling by taking credit for the killing. Arising the suspicion of Melinda and the police, Vic must also deal with the nosiness of his neighbor Lionel (Tracy Letts), an aspiring crime writer.
Adrian Lyne’s filmography is a mixture of different genres. However, three of his most famous films (Fatal Attraction, Indecent Proposal, and Unfaithful) deal with marriage and the consequences of infidelity. As Lyne is no stranger to the subject, I was optimistic for the film when I hit play. Deep Water starts out strong enough, with a solid introduction to our lead characters. As he approaches fifty this year, Ben Affleck looks as confident as ever while continuing to tap into more character driver roles. Fresh off her appearance in No Time to Die, Ana de Armas continues to impress and alludes to natural sex appeal.
Affleck spends most of the film teetering a line of different personalities. Case in point, in the scenes that Affleck has with friends Nash (Lil Rel Howery) and Arthur (Dash Mihok) or with his daughter Trixie, he comes off as charming. However, his arrogance shows in some scenes with his wife and her lovers. This angle brings me to one of the film’s most significant issues, the script.
Zach Helm and Sam Levinson collaborate on the script; however, it appears sonically that the writers were on two different wavelengths. Helm has not written a screenplay since 2007’s flop Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. On the other hand, Levinson has found success with the film Malcolm & Marie and the hit series Euphoria. Watching the movie, I feel that the duo did not know what kind of film to make or chose to go far left from the source material. In addition, we never learn any historical motivation behind Vic’s decision to allow his wife to cheat. While there are hints for Vic’s reason, it is never to get validation.
The script, in turn, affects Lyne’s direction, as he is unable to keep the pacing strong. Affleck and De Armas do what they can with the material, and the duo does have great chemistry; however, the bulk of the supporting cast is on autopilot, turning in performances that add nothing of value to the film. Mainly the men who portray Melinda’s lovers come off as a Wish Brand Boy Toys.
Deep Water is not a total waste of a film, but as far as Lyne’s return to directing, it misses the mark, only receiving a mild recommendation for the chemistry of its stars.
Final Grade: C
Deep Water is available to stream on Hulu tomorrow March 18th
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