Deep Water on Amazon Prime Video: A film that aspires to be clever

When I saw the trailer of Deep Water, I thought it would be much like Geheraiyaan. And that thought is not a very comfortable one, mind you. However, the film is nowhere close to the latter other than the title which is like a more poetic translation of the Deepika Padukone starrer. Thankfully so.

Deep Water, starring Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas is a psychological thriller film directed by Adrian Lyne (of Unfaithful fame) in his return to filmmaking after a 20-year-long hiatus. With a screenplay written by Zach Helm and Sam Levinson, the film follows the life of Vic and Melinda Van Allen, an affluent couple who try hard to keep their marriage and the house afloat.

There's not really much substance in the film other than the background score and the under-the-breath dialogue delivery by Ben Affleck. Ana de Armas plays the bored and yet enigmatic, promiscuous and bossy wife of Ben Affleck who for most of the time looks... for want of a better word... constipated.

In the initial sequence where we see Vic and Melinda attend a party, we see Melinda get chummy (I'm being delicate here, because the film is not, anywhere) with one of the guests at the party. Strangely, this film reminded me of the famous party scene from Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut. The only difference from the latter is that Deep Waters doesn't really delve deep into the psyche of either of its protagonists. All that we get is a conversation between Vic and one of his friends who raises concerns about her promiscuity and his apparent nonchalance about it.

Every scene that follows is just cursory and doesn't really add much to what the film aspires to be. The psychological warfare that we are supposed to witness doesn't really happen anywhere. We don't get scenes where we see the plotting nature of Melinda or the possessive nature of Vic. All we see are hot scenes of people making out and Vic cycling away to a rousing background score symbolic of him having killed. Oops! Did I just spoil the movie for you? Yes and no. You'll get it when you watch the film... or not... I'd leave that to you.

While aimlessly going from one scene to another, where we are supposed to understand what the film is about, we are also introduced to redundant characters who are supposed to take the plot forward (and I mean it not just in the generic sense). But we only get a sense that they are supposed to move the plot forward, but don't really do that. All they do is just put a huge brake on the already slow-moving film.

This brings me to the writing of the film. The film is a psychological thriller. Unlike the director's earlier venture (Unfaithful), here there's no element of psychology involved. All we get are glimpses of a thriller. When I came to know that this is an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel of the same name, I was disappointed even further. Not because I had read the book. But because we already have enough examples of book adaptations that have worked very well. The screenplay is unfocused and meanders here and there. The supporting characters are shallow and don't provide any impetus to the story. The ending feels contrived and rushed.

Overall, the film is a wasted attempt in adapting what could have been a wonderful psychological warfare in a marriage involving two complex individuals. Just like Geheraiyaan, this film too was probably better on paper but got lost in translation because it wanted to be clever.

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