…minor observations on The Deep Blue Sea

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Revisiting a Terence Davies film is always a rewarding experience: each one is so rich and subtle, a reminder of what great cinema is all about.

I’ve just re-watched his latest, The Deep Blue Sea – out now on DVD/Blu-ray.

Things which particularly struck me…

  • Camera movement: so elegant and understated. In the scene where the two lovers part for the final time, the camera pans a few degrees around Hester and stops. When Freddie finally goes, it does so again. The movements seem exactly calibrated to underline her emotionally fragility. The timing of the pans exactly suit their purpose – any shorter or longer and the power would be diminished, would not have the same psychological or emotional potency.
  • Performances: thanks to skilled actors, Davies’ direction and some sensitive writing (adapting), the performances are mesmerising. Weisz and Hiddleston work so well together. Also greatly impressed (even more so than the first time) with Simon Russell Beale – whose character William is so crucial to the story – he gives a beautifully poised and finely judged performance: it is simply heartbreaking.
  • The set pieces are so effective. The opening sequence, set to the music of Samuel Barber, combines an economy of storytelling with a powerful emotional connection. In a very different scene – the underground shelter flashback – the perfection of lighting, the pacing of the slow track back of the camera, the gradual revelation of the underground inhabitants, the poignancy of the singing, and the final revelation of the two protagonists; these are an exquisite combination of elements.

I think it must be time to go back and check out those Davies masterpieces: Distant Voices, Still Lives; Long Day Closes, and House of Mirth.

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