by Anthony Bonavita
The return of the “psychological thriller” has left critics and viewers alike disappointed, not thrilled or psyched. Significant hype was no match for the movie Deep Water’s poor character development and a questionable ending.
Deep Water is a movie directed by Adrian Lyne and co-written by Zach Helm and red-hot Sam Levinson (fresh off the success of the HBO series Euphoria). The movie has quite the cast as well, starring Ben Affleck, up-and-coming actress Ana de Armas, and Euphoria-star Jacob Elordi. While the cast and crew make the movie out to be a new classic, the cast can’t make up for a script poorly adapted from the 1957 novel. The film’s production was unfortunately halted during the height of the pandemic, and shortly after resuming, co-stars de Armas and Affleck split, making for a messy, quickly slapped-together movie that came out more than a year later than expected. It is these unfortunate events, along with predictable story writing, that has the movie subjected to some negative reviews—including this one.
We follow married couple Vic (Affleck) and Melinda (de Armas) Van Allen as they piece together a god-awful marriage. Vic is a rich computer chip designer who made it big by creating a microchip that allows drones to “hunt down children” as Melinda describes. Melinda is a housewife (her profession is not explored) that spends her time cheating on her husband. Vic eats it up though, and multiple times in the movie is seen simply staring at his wife cheating on him.
And when Melinda cheats on Vic, she loves it. Her character is a perfect example of a sly woman in the male gaze, and what many joke to be a “woman written by a man.” She is turned on when her husband gets jealous of her cheating on him which does result in multiple intimate sex scenes. On top of this, the one time Vic dances with another woman, Melinda gets extremely jealous, asks Vic if he wants to have sex with her, and then proceeds to give him a blowjob in the car. The perfect woman. Vic on the other hand is potentially a psychotic killer who threatens every guy she cheats with, instead of maybe divorcing her. All other characters are completely underdeveloped, and the men Vic ends up killing are the simplest, surface-level characters.
The poorly developed characters would be nothing without the movie’s poorly filmed scenes. There are multiple car scenes, including the climactic car chase scene, all of which look like they were filmed in 2005. Sex scenes, of which there are plenty, are abysmal and result from the weirdest moments such as a picnic with their daughter the day after Vic murdered a man five feet away from them. There are attempts at cool scenes, including the unimportant but interesting slugs that Vic intimidates people with. But they are just so surface-level and do not provide any deeper meaning that they pass along and are forgotten. The movie has a very “country club” feel to it, and it makes many of the characters in the movie seem snobby and boring. Unfortunately, but actually fortunately, the best scene in the movie is the end credit with their daughter singing in the car, and because it meant the movie ended.
And what should have been the saving grace, the story itself, falls short of a cinematic thriller. There is really no mystery as to who killed Elordi, especially after Affleck jokes about killing people, and we see him kill someone else 20 minutes later. Not much mystery there. The ending itself is quite blurry as well: de Armas is seen burning the ID of one of the victims when she finds out Affleck is behind it, completely changing her stance from the rest of the movie where she was mad at him for the murders. The final shot itself is a recreation of the first scene, which confuses the timeline and provides nothing for understanding the story.
But maybe the director intended for the story to be this way; after all, it was an adaptation of a book. But for all the hype the movie received for being a new classic in the psychological thriller genre, Deep Water falls painfully short. (And maybe even the directors knew since there was very little press coverage of the movie until its release on Hulu.)
Anthony Bonavita is a sophomore in the SFS studying Culture and Politics and minoring in Journalism.