Written by Becca Johnson
Enticing and twisted, Deep Water sucks us into the journey with mesmerising lead performances and the prospect of an exciting climax, but unfortunately when the final destination is reached, it almost doesn't seem worth it.
Based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith, Deep Water is an erotic psychological thriller that explores a marriage full of mind games between Vic (Ben Affleck) and Melinda (Ana de Armas), and shows us what happens to the people that get caught up in them.
The obvious takeaway from Deep Water is the talent in front of the camera. Ana de Armas (Knives Out) excels as Melinda, a bored Wife and Mother who finds her fun in other men. Ben Affleck (Gone Girl) gives a believable performance as husband Vic, who seems to put up with his wife's behaviour due to his love for her; however, he clearly has secrets of his own. It's the dynamic between the two that somehow keeps its audience invested – what is Vic hiding, why is Melinda so heartless, and why do they put up with each other? The pair, who were seemingly dating at the time of filming, have great chemistry and work well together. As awkward as that may seem now, it may be the movies only saving grace. Some decent side performances were put forward from the likes of Tracy Letts (Lady Bird), Lil Rel Howery (Get Out) and Finn Wittrock (The Big Short), though screen-time minimal.
Deep Water attempts to be an erotic thriller, but severely lacks in both departments. Melinda is a character who enjoys sex and has multiple partners during the film, though this is mostly left to the imagination. Herself and Vic admittedly share a few intimate moments; they are present but often cut short due to the pairs rocky relationship. The thriller elements are also lukewarm, with not a great deal actually happening. We get flashes here and there of betrayal, violence and insanity, but it's mostly a slow boil that doesn't show much and can just about keep you invested. It has the all the ingredients for greatness, but can't quite get there.
A slow burn is always worth it when an intense climax is present, which Deep Water unfortunately lacks. The third act, undeniably more exciting than the prior two, nearly reaches something special but just misses the mark. The ending is particularly abrupt with no repercussions for our leads; as the end takes us back to the start, it feels like everything that happened in between was pointless and futile. That being said, there is something about the movie that you can't help but be sucked in by. It's mysterious, thought-provoking and almost sexy, leaving you desperate to know what our characters are up to and what goes on inside their heads. Deep Water is also shot nicely and has a prominent score, both pairing together to immerse you just the right amount.
Deep Water isn't going to suit everybody. It's a slowly simmering pot that doesn't seem to fully boil, resulting in a half baked erotic psychological thriller that isn't overly erotic, psychological or thrilling. However, it's ability to keep its audience invested is admirable, and Affleck and de Armas really try, giving fantastic performances. It's worth watching for the acting alone, and some will enjoy the journey despite the lacklustre destination.