The Deep End Blu-ray Review
THE DEEP END is a thriller that simmers. It marinates. It takes its time. There aren’t any pyrotechnics here. There is little blood. This is a film that keeps up the tension until you can’t take it anymore.
Tilda Swinton is such a chameleon when she approaches acting roles. She envelopes them and caresses them. THE DEEP END represented her first Golden Globe nomination and rightfully so. Swinton plays Margaret Hall, a deeply committed mother of three in Lake Tahoe. Much of her time lately is getting her 17-year-old son Beau (Jonathan Tucker) back on track. He had recently got into a wreck while drinking. Margaret discovers that he’s been hanging out in Reno with Darby Reese (Josh Lucas), a seedy club owner. Margaret also suspects that Darby and Beau are having an affair. In the beginning of the film, Margaret tells Darby to stay away from her son. She wants him to concentrate on his budding music career. Beau gets into a fight with Darby that night. Darby slips and falls on an anchor. He is killed, but Beau does not know this because he had walked away. This sets the setting of this sordid tale.
Directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel based their screenplay on the novel “The Blank Wall” by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding. They changed the gender of the child to a male and also made the relationship a homosexual one. This decision adds an extra dimension to the story as it goes on. Beau is struggling with his sexuality. He lies to his mother about it. His mother is struggling with how to help him in this.
Margaret discovers Darby’s body the next day. She instantly thinks that Beau may have killed him. We as the audience know better. That’s the beauty of this movie. We are always one step ahead in that regard. Margaret decides to cover up the evidence. She dumps the body in a different place on the lake and she drives Darby’s car back to a hotel.
Any parent can relate to Margaret’s predicament. She is fighting for Beau’s life and his freedom. She never directly asks him the details of that night. He is vague on the particulars. It is a dance they perform throughout. At first Margaret thinks she knows something that went on and is trying to protect. Later we see Beau in this role. It gets stickier when Alek (Goran Visnjic) shows up at her doorstep demanding a $50000 blackmail payment. Alek and his partner Nagel (Raymond Berry) are owed a lot of money from Darby. They thought they had struck out with Darby’s death. But lo and behold they found a tape showing Darby and Beau having sex. Alek threatens to go to the authorities with this tape unless they are paid that extraordinary amount.
This sets off a fascinating relationship between Alek and Margaret. Alek is determined to get the money, while Margaret is trying desperately to keep her family together. Margaret’s husband and Beau’s father is out on the ocean for work. He cannot be reached. This makes it more difficult for Margaret to get the money. Margaret also knows that he wouldn’t be as accepting with Beau’s sexuality as she is. So there are several things working against her. She’s trying to raise the money, keep the details of Darby’s death a secret and keeping the secrets of the family. It is a lot to ask of Margaret. She breaks down on occasion and is stressed beyond belief. A family health crisis is also thrown in to muddy the waters.
The two main relationships of THE DEEP END are between Margaret and Beau and the one between Margaret and Alek. Both of the relationships are strained at first. And then human nature takes hold. Beau becomes concerned with what Margaret is up to. Alek starts to feel compassion toward Margaret and the choices he has made in his life. Everything revolves around Margaret and what she will do next. This film does keep you guessing on what is going to happen next.
This is one of Tilda Swinton’s finest acting performances. She has the ability to show despair with her eyes or with a look. This is a physical performance as well that no doubt taxed Swinton’s body and soul. I was always drawn in by her and that is a mark of a great actress.
THE DEEP END does not end with a neat and tidy resolution. That is what is so good about it. Life isn’t always clean. There are some messes along the way. THE DEEP END perfectly encapsulates that.
THE DEEP END BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: The transfer is gorgeous. The blues of the lake and sky are breathtaking.
Audio: There were times where the sound is a bit lackluster. It is clear most of the time though.
Feature Commentary with Scott McGhee and David Siegel: The two directors briefly go over their career and the great fortune to get Tilda Swinton. Location is key to the movie with the house being a laborious task to procure. The two men are very polite in not talking over one another. They each let the other speak and it makes for a coherent commentary.
Anatomy of a Scene: Sundance Channel (24:07): A key scene between Margaret and Alek is diagnosed. The location of the film is discussed. Details about the lighting are touched on. You get to see how the scene evolves and the genesis of the thinking behind it.
Featurette (2:36): The two directors and some of the actors discuss the film in brief.
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