Director Adrian Lyne has a long history of delivering steamy and compelling erotic-thrillers. From “Fatal Attraction” in the 80’s, to “Indecent Proposal” in the 90’s, to “Unfaithful” in the aughts, Lyne has delivered sultry winners over the past three decades. So naturally I was interested in what he could do with “Deep Water” and two capable leads in Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas. Sadly, this could be his weakest film to date as it essentially missed the mark across the board.
It’s an…okay film when all is said and done. There isn’t anything horrible about this movie that stands out. Yet it does have a series of flaws that result in a bland, two-hour journey of the ultimate toxic couple, that doesn’t really feel like a couple, in a story that feels closer to three hours. “Deep Water” steps into the life of this single child couple and proceeds to explore its narrative without building the proper foundations to frame reasoning. What’s left are motiveless characters that despite spending a couple hours with, I knew little to nothing about.
Affleck’s Vic Van Allen has money and decent looks and without much elaboration there is nothing to grab onto as to why he is sticking around as his wife beds lover after lover. He passes it off as ‘letting her be who she is’, but as the viewer, more than that is needed to connect with this man throughout the tale of this terrible marriage. Small tidbits are seeded here and there through spots of exposition but the passion that pulls Vic to his wife is completely missing on the writing side. While also being visibly absent in the lack of chemistry between Affleck and de Armas who don’t even feel like they are in love.
So, for the duration this exploration of unlikable characters, through comically awkward and unrealistic situations, fails to hit the emotional notes. Thus, it feels more like a bland drama with cheap sex, rather than the infatuating and erotically atmospheric story it clearly intends to be. And despite names like Affleck and de Armas, the performances do little to elevate the material. Affleck is lifeless throughout and does nothing to make you sympathize with him. I will say he has a collection of appealing moments when this movie takes darker turns, but these spots of appeal were few and far between.
Ana de Armas was fine as Melinda. There isn’t anything about her performance that sticks out as bad. She carries the role well and she does deliver some substance filled eye contact in places to sell the sexually free spirit of her character and to let the viewer know she is well aware of what she is doing to her husband. But it all feels like empty calories. Like Affleck’s, her character is one dimensional and with a story that lacks the foundations to build the layers needed to explore this intense marriage there was little they could do to make this movie more intriguing.
The novel this one is based on may have better developed the characters. But this movie felt like it relied on Affleck and de Armas and their appeal alone and it fails to build the world that would have properly allowed them to play inside these roles. There was potential for a sexy, stylish thriller here. But with a drag of a middle act and a closing that flows through conveniences to get where it needs, hinders what could’ve been a seductive flick and instead, the forced style just makes it feel a bit cheap.
Anthony J. Digioia II © 2022 SilverScreen Analysis. All Rights Reserved.