The Deep Blue Sea (2011) Directed by Terence Davies

Nick :
Tony Benn died this week. For a lot of people he was an often-lone-voice-of-reason in the post- Thatcher political landscape of the United Kingdom. He cared about what happened to the working man. A staunch advocate of democracy, Benn believed in the power of the ballot box and that route being the way for the worse-off to better their lives. Politics. It was interesting to hear people describe him as controversial as the tributes and eulogies flooded the media. Actually, he was far from controversial, Benn was just a reasonable humanitarian who spoke sense. I'd think of him as the last great politician from an age where people used to put trust in those they elected before it all got so seedy. Tony Benn retained his dignity and validity right up to his death. It was by coincidence we should watch Terence Davies The Deep Blue Sea that evening. Davies' most celebrated film, Distant Voices, Still Lives is of course about working class people (and his own family). Distant Voices, Still Lives is still regarded as one of the finest achievements in British Cinema.

Tony Benn
The Deep Blue Sea slightly resembles Davies' last fiction film, 2000's brilliant The House Of Mirth, in so far as it depicts a strong minded woman out of time with the era she finds herself in. In The Deep Blue Sea we find Hester (an inspirational Rachel Weisz) taking an overdose and trying to end her life. From here the story unravels to reveal (mostly in flashback) how Hester is a Lady by title living in sin (not acceptable in 1950's Britain). The Deep Blue Sea is based on Terence Rattigan's play and feels like that. Mostly shot in interiors there is a very stagey feeling to the film.

Rachel Weisz in The Deep Blue Sea
Davies manages to inject a couple of inventive visual scenes amongst the stiff surroundings. Most notable is a scene where the camera – on a never ending rotating movement – captures our illicit lovers asleep in bed. A one shot tracking movement in a packed underground station which people are using for shelter during a Second World War bombing of London is breathtaking. These moments along with Weisz just about elevate The Deep Blue Sea. Whilst watching, everything points to tragedy. In this respect Davies brings unpredictability. The Deep Blue Sea has a 1950's London as its real star and looks gorgeous with its clever use of sets with light and shade. Like its main protagonist, it is a film out of time with our times and in love with some notions of the past. A minor pleasure.

I bought a vintage dress today. It's gorgeous and a great fit for me and I cannot wait to wear it, but I need some semi-decent occasion because it's a bit flowery and happy 1950s dress (and I have been staying home lately, so I'm not sure when I'll be putting the dress on.)  A while back I decided not to buy anymore expensive vintage dresses and begin to sell then instead, but I had to have the dress today – as a present for myself – and also because I had watched The Deep Blue Sea the night before and the mood was still lingering. Because we are living through strange times here at our house, all I have been watching lately is Sex And The City (while Nick has been on the cop shows a lot). Carrie Bradshaw is still my comfort-go-to. She makes me giggle (even though I realized I have only ever been single for like lix months in my life).

So, anyway, we have started The Deep Blue Sea a couple of times only to find that I was too tired or too uncomfortable to sit on our old sofa (a new one will be coming soon and that's good news for this blog). Yesterday we finally stuck with the film and I'm glad we did. I need to talk more about clothing here: the look of the whole movie was stylish and dark and moody and beautiful, but the clothes were just amazing. Rachel Weisz always looks great, but she really carried the mid-1900s style well. There was a particular red trench coat, which became almost a character of its own. The color became symbolic of the woman's plight. She was too free and passionate for her surroundings. The coat expressed her inner passion while the cut allowed her to pass in her social surroundings. Trench coats are perfect over a flowery dress. They are structured, but dress-like too. I have been thinking about them since last autumn, when I ordered one from Paris and had to hide it in my closet until last week.

No more on clothes. The Deep Blue Sea depicts a woman who leaves her husband of noticeable social position for his friend, a sexually active younger man. She chooses sex and passion over security and social status. She chooses to move forward instead of sticking with the norm and what is expected of her as a woman. While the story is old and fashion has moved forward some, there is much that resonates in the present. Yet, the most powerful devices in this movie are cinematic – the look, the sets, the camera work, the soft lights and the darkness. Old-fashioned for all the right reasons (like the new dress).


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