'Deep Water' review: Long-delayed Ben Affleck movie is a mess
MOVIE "Deep Water"
WHERE Streaming on Hulu
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas star in "Deep Water," the first movie directed by Adrian Lyne, the erotic thriller specialist behind such genre classics as "Fatal Attraction," since "Unfaithful" in 2002.
The stars play married couple Vic and Melinda, whose relationship is tested by her repeated open flirtations and affairs with other men, which Vic allows in order to avoid a divorce, and by his reaction to them.
After being subject to multiple release delays during the COVID-19 pandemic, this present-day adaptation of a 1957 novel by Patricia Highsmith ("The Talented Mr. Ripley"), cowritten by "Euphoria" creator Sam Levinson, is now streaming on Hulu.
MY SAY It's amazing that a movie like "Deep Water" has been released in 2022, especially by the Disney-owned 20th Century Studios. The heyday of the erotic thriller, especially those starring A-list actors, has long passed and this isn't exactly Disney's bread-and-butter business.
Fans of this genre who wish Hollywood still made movies like "Basic Instinct" or "Wild Things" are surely curious about this surprising new picture.
So it's sad to report that "Deep Water" is a tremendous mess, utterly bereft of drama, entertainment value or anything that might provide a compelling reason to give it a chance.
The problems begin with a screenplay that offers no insight into the extent to which a marriage might have been broken enough to arrive at this place, where a wife openly cheats on her husband in front of his face and he simply watches with simmering anger.
We don't learn anything about these people as we suffer through scenes that begin and end in precisely the same fashion, with Vic angrily enduring Melinda's open cheating.
The woes continue with the extraordinarily one-dimensional conception of Melinda, a character who has no discernible personality beyond her desire for men other than her husband. It's not De Armas' fault — she has nothing to work with to allow for any sort of depth here.
In the right role, Affleck is a fine actor. But he's perhaps never been more miscast than he is in "Deep Water." He seems deeply uncomfortable throughout the movie, almost as if he's as flummoxed by Vic as the rest of us. He's unable to suggest the psychological depths necessary to pull off a character who is so inexplicable in so many ways.
An actor more in touch with the sort of offbeat darkness required for Vic — someone like Willem Dafoe — might have been able to overcome some of the obvious shortcomings, or at least provided enough of an edge to the part to make the movie enjoyable in a sort of lurid, trashy way.
And that sums up the biggest problem of all: "Deep Water" is devoid of any sense of fun. The film is so opposed to indulging in its natural home, silly B-picture territory, that it ends up becoming even more ridiculous than it might have been had it just embraced the fundamental stupidity.
BOTTOM LINE Even if you're intrigued by the thought of a new erotic thriller in 2022, stay far away from "Deep Water."