The Deep Blue Sea opens with a mournful Hester (Rachel Weisz) opening the gas on her heater and slowly lying down in front of it, waiting for death. Unfortunately for her, Hester’s neighbors find her, and her suicide is thwarted. What has caused Hester to give up her will? A bad relationship.
Using flashbacks to a happier, or at least a more lustful time, we meet Hester as she first encounters the dashing Royal Air Force pilot Freddie (Tom Hiddleston) just after the war. He’s a young hero, she is bored with her marriage to an older, stuffy Judge (Simon Russell Beale), and sparks fly between the two. Next thing you know, they are embarking on a lustful, not entirely discreet affair. When Hester’s husband finds out, she is booted out and shacks up with her true love, Freddie.
But as we know from her suicide attempts, things don’t turn out so well. Hester and Freddie fight. He is fun and passionate, but rather aimless. They are not married, which adds to the excitement, but also leaves Hester without a place in her old life or her new life with Freddie. She cries a lot. He gets annoyed. She cries more and apologizes. Her whole character reeks of desperation.
This film is difficult to watch, but no blame goes to the actors. Both Weisz and Hiddleston, and even Beale in his smaller role, are all excellent. But none of them are truly likeable, despite the bonafide chemistry between the leads. The setup is also stagey, like an intimate, claustrophobic play. This is not a bad thing, necessarily, but I didn’t really want to be around these people for an hour and a half. Add to that a jarring soundtrack that appears only for a few scenes, The Deep Blue Sea felt like drowning in someone else’s desperation, as they pawed at you and wept and held onto your legs as you tried to walk away.