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Did You See The Deep Blue Sea?

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Mark Kermode | 15:22 UK time, Friday, 2 December 2011

I bumped into the outstanding British director Terence Davies this week in Liverpool.

He was promoting his new movie The Deep Blue Sea which had a great opening weekend at the box office.

Have you seen the film? If you have, I'd like to know what you thought of it.

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  • Comment number 1.

    I've never sent a comment before, but I felt compelled to do so because I enjoyed the film so much. I thought it retained the depth of the play whilst being wonderfully cinematic.

  • Comment number 2.

    *clang* *thunk* *smash* What's that?! Oh, never mind that's just the sound of name dropping.

    Anyway... I thought the film was lovely, but slight. Beautiful to look at but stagey. And Tom Hiddleston was excellent. Nothing extraordinary but very stiff upper-lipped and British. I'm not sure however that's a compliment, maybe I should see it again.

  • Comment number 3.

    What a lot of period pieces lack that The Deep Blue Sea has is how "relatable" the characters and their story are. Time and time again period films spend so much time saying "Oooh, look at this, an antique car, oooh look, a gramophone, look how different it is to our modern world!" that they distance the characters and the story and you find it hard to relate to any of it. The same can happen with science-fiction when massive attention is centred on some imagined fandangled technology that doesn't exist and is meant to wow us.

    What Davies does so well with The Deep Blue Sea is that all of the period feel is pushed to the background, almost like he subconscious of the movie. The colour palette, small mannerisms in the acting, the set design (obviously), this is what communicates that it's the 1950s whilst the story and characters can always remain centre-stage. Magnificent!

  • Comment number 4.

    i haven't had a chance to see deep sea and I'll probably wont and see it but Hugo instead. nothing against Terence Davies but i haven't seen much from him so i'd rather not take a gamble with the too little time i have to see films in my local multiplex . this is the sort of film i will probably get through my love film account in 6 months or so to see if i like Terence. if i did then i would probably see his next film in the cinema. nothing against him i just know i love martian Scorsese.

  • Comment number 5.

    fully intend to see this film, but along with i suspect quite a few other people, I will have to wait to see it (16th Dec in my case) at my lovely local art house cinema, as all the multiplex's in our area are not showing it. If you have a small number of responses to this blog then this may be the reason, but do not fear, i am sure a lot more of us will catch up with The Deep Blue Sea very soon!!

  • Comment number 6.

    As you want a succinct review, here goes. Firstly WorldofCine only had Deep Blue Sea on for a week in Glasgow to to see it I saw Take Shelter first (to put me in the mood!) DBS was a lovely mood piece and Rachel's acting superb but I got a tad irritated with her character, and her chap, Freddie (my middle name - immediate bias!) seemed to emerge out of 'Biggles Flies Out'. Nevermind the imagery. Terence's shots throughout were delicate and sympathetic, but am I wrong in thinking I could have done with a wee bit more story to explain Hester's first ill judged marriage. Mark - Re your 'clash' of interests, at the end of your blog, at least Nick Lowe didn't turn up!

    Gordon Strong

  • Comment number 7.

    I saw The deep Blue sea yesterday the the G.F.T., (1/12/11). I had missed your review of it but am aware of your admiration for Terrence Davies' work. Up front I have to state my biggest prejudice, I've never much like Rachel Weiss's acting, which had me in two minds about going to see this. But I paid and went in and boy am I glad I did. The running time is listed at 1 hour 38minutes but it felt more like 30 minutes. It doesn't have the hallmarks of modern mainstream cinema - fast editing, flash camera angles, kinetic and pointless roving camera boombastic music etc. etc.. But the time passed so quickly. Within a few minutes of the opening I had been pulled in. Davies captures the period perfectly as well. There is a thing that often happens with period pieces set in the forties and fifties, that everything looks too modern. 1950-ish was post-war Britain, where the majority were on the austerity diet and the country was still marked by the war. This is on the screen in The Deep Blue Sea, the characters are fully formed believable people and the story is perfectly formed. The most touching scene is the landlady's explanation of what love really is. Had a catch in my throat as she delivered this line. Which I won't spoil. I know this is probably over stating the fact but I think it's the finest film I've seen this year. Rachel Weiss was great, the whole cast were terrific, I especially like Simon Russell Beale as William Colyer. I had only ever seen him in episodes of the risible tv series Spooks, but he is a revelation in this. Lovely film, you won't regret seeing it in the cinema, but one day you might just regret not having seen it in a cinema.

  • Comment number 8.

    The Clash!! No question about it . You should have STAYED!!!!!

  • Comment number 9.

    I was enthralled to see this film. Beautifully shot and constructed. Made pure cinema from an interesting but modest play as only Terence could. Please continue to laud this great director. Ta.

  • Comment number 10.

    Saw The Deep Blue Sea at FACT last weekend. I think it is probably a masterpiece. What is really striking is the way Davies style seems so suited to Rattigan, it is as if they were made for each other. The way Davies has adapted the play to make it feel more cinematic is superb whilst the tracking shot through the underground station is as good as anything he's done. Actresses should be queuing up to work with him, he makes Rachel Weisz look simply sensational.

  • Comment number 11.

    I loved it. It was beautifully crafted. And much better than the original one with the shark.

  • Comment number 12.

    LL Cool J was great in this. I keed, I keed! (He was not great in it.)

  • Comment number 13.

    @BabyFaceMichael re: 8 -

    It is for that reason that I always stay 'till the end ... *hiccup*

  • Comment number 14.

    As I'm stuck indoors with a litter of puppies, I'm hoping that Deep Blue Sea will still be in our local when they no longer need us. Coincidentally, my personal puppy film festival's program does include a Davies double bill, Of Time and the City and The House of Mirth (I'm using the backlog on my PVR to stave off the cabin fever).

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    I've long been an admirer of Davies' having especially liked the House of Mirth and Of Time and the City. I saw the Deep Blue Sea at my local Art Cinema this week and thought it was one of the best films I've seen this year. Indeed, like LittleBigJohn I'd go so far as to call it Davies' masterpiece.

    Many might think of the film as slow or even languid perhaps but this, at least for me, was one of its many strengths. Davies expertly and economically evokes both the hope and hopelessness of post-war Britain. The opening crane shot as the camera rises up the shabby boarding house and settles on Esther's face staring out of the window, the paint peeling and the rotten wood coming through, so elegantly invokes the mood. The unashamed use of Barber's Violin Concerto, also reminded me of how well Davies utilises classical music. Indeed, I cannot think of another director since Kubrick who does so well.

    The acting was uniformly excellent, with Weisz especially good. Since the Constant Gardener I struggle to think of a film she's been in but here she's a revelation. As Esther Coyler, she's called upon to act in scenes where she is alone, subject to intense and lengthy close-ups. We have to believe that her love for Freddie (Tom Hiddleston) is both passionate and doomed. To this end both actors play off each other so well and so convincingly. They are joined by Simon Russell-Beale as Esther's estranged husband William, unable to contemplate why she would abandon her secure if uninspired marriage for such a volatile man. He too is a revelation in a role that could so easily have been played for easy sympathy.

    Notwithstanding a couple of odd moments that jar slightly - I am not sure pubs in London would have been full of people singing, or that a respectable woman could have walked in in order to confront her boyfriend - this was a sparkling return to our screens for Davies. In the week that Ken Russell died we shouldn't have to put up with so much mediocrity in our cinemas whilst great filmmakers make so few films or struggle to get them to a wider audience. If the academy don't recognise the film Dr K. I'm sure you can see fit to bung all concerned Kermode Awards.

  • Comment number 17.

    I've not seen the film, but I saw a production of the play at West Yorkshire Playhouse where Maxine Peake played Esther seemingly as a younger version of Miss Babs from Acorn Antiques! Hopefully Rachel Weisz will be better.

  • Comment number 18.

    Rattigan's dated drama has been revised/rewritten by Davies but the fundamental problems remain:
    1 - Do we care about the three main characters?
    2 - Do we have empathy or sympathy with any of them?
    My answer to both of the above is no which may be part of the reason why on Rotten Tomatoes the critics rating for the film is 86% whereas the audience rating is 46%.By contrast My Week with Marilyn,released in the same week, has an almost identical critics rating of 83%,audience 82%.

  • Comment number 19.

    Sorry Dr K. and fellow contributors, I didn't get to the end of the video because of my absurdly slow "broadband" (narrowband more like) and thus didn't get instruction to keep it short! Just read the middle paragraph!!

  • Comment number 20.

    What a fantastic film. Apart from great performances and choice of music it is a beautiful story about the pursuit of happiness. I am not a big fan of dramas and frankly speaking it was the first Terence Davies' film I have seen. Yes, Mark - I prefer popcorn blockbusters such as Tin-Tin (but not necessarily in 3D). Thanks again for the recommendation!
    By the way - I just finished "The Good, the Bad and the Multiplex" and it made me think of giving up my Cineworld membership. Michael.

  • Comment number 21.

    Me thinks the man needs 'the fellowship 2011'-he is sublime

  • Comment number 22.

    First up Doc, i only saw this film because of this blog, i had little interest in a Rattigan adaptation so i hope "Lord Tel" appreciates all the extra business your drumming up for him.

    Reading the above posts i thought this was going to be the revelation of the year. Unfortunately i was uninvolved in these peoples lives and apart from some tender moments and the public arguments i found myself thinking about other films i'd enjoyed more this year, sorry about that.

    Althought the film of which you should've asked "did you see" was 'We need to talk about Kevin' everyone had i different interpretation of that film.

  • Comment number 23.

    I agree with frankmol66, you could not relate to any of the characters in this. They were so self absorbed it was difficult to sympathise with any of them and could only see them going on to repeat the same mistakes again and again and the best approach to dealing with them would be damage limitation by leaving them on their path to self destruction without dragging you in too. As such it reminds me of an art house version of 500 days of summer with characters you just want to grab and shout at them while trying to shake some sense in to them while getting annoyed by the somewhat uncritical responses of posters who perceive a greater depth than actually exists. Some one once said that an arts lecturer described the pre raphaelites as nice masters of nice textiles in their paintings. This is a car of nice wallpaper.

  • Comment number 24.

    Yes! A beautiful, compelling, smoothly flowing cocktail of emotion and honesty that never allows schmaltz to taint it.

    Long live the few independent cinemas (Hurrah for The Watershed!) that allow us to see such accessible art as this.

    Please, please, Mark, arrange an increase in the solitary screen (in London) that's showing Margaret. We need quality in the backwaters of Bristol, too!

  • Comment number 25.

    It has been a great spell of good filma at the cinema recently and over a short time, my wife and I have been to see "The Help", "My Week with Marilyn", "Moneyball", "Take Shelter", "50/50", "Deep Blue Sea" and "Hugo". "Deep Blue Sea is our favourite from that list although we are divided over the minor places.

    I had to venture out of the multiplex and the savings of our unlimited cards in order to catch "Deep Blue Sea", it was well worth it. We found it to be thought provoking and beautifly acted. I am sure that many of the audience saw a bit of themselves reflected as both Hester and Johhny showed the selfish sides of their natures.

    Great direction and cinematography as well. I loved the end shot which I thought was full of meaning. Maybe a "best supporting actor" nomination for the chaffeur?

    We saw Hugo the following night. More lavish but perhaps over long and not as well put together in my opinion.

    I listened to the podcast of Friday's show at the weekend, did I miss the ROTPOTA review?

  • Comment number 26.

    @ 25 Powerfade

    Your last point, neither did I. Come on,come on,enough suspense already !!!

  • Comment number 27.

    I've just come from seeing The Deep Blue Sea at the Tyneside Cinema. I'm afraid the kindest thing I can call it is an admirable failure.

    I speak as a fan of Davies, having thoroughly enjoyed and been moved by Of Time and the City. I agree with his comments in your interview on 5Live about celebrating British talent and our own approach to filmaking. And the film is beautifully lit with a great use of Samuel Barber in the soundtrack.

    But... I just didn't care about any of the people on screen:

    1. I've always found Rachel Weisz irritating as an actress (although I've not The Fountain). She gave an interview when she did A Streetcar Named Desire bemoaning the lack of dramatic filmmaking in Hollywood - fair enough, except that her definition of drama seems to be crying, moaning, staring mournfully into middle distance, or all of the above. She's worse here than she is The Lovely Bones (another admirable failure), and there were points where I wished she would just top herself.

    2. Neither of the male characters got enough to do - they just drifted into stiff-upper-lip stereotypes pretty quickly. It didn't have the quality that Tinker Tailor did, where every gesture meant at least three different things.

    3. If you're going to show repression in films, there has to be a pay-off or some form of character development to make all this pressure worthwhile. But this moment never arrives, or if it did it was handled in such a way that I didn't pick up on it.

    4. The Rattigan play is very dated. It may have had a social relevance when it came out, but it just feels starchy and stuffy now. I'm sick of seeing films which celebrate the British stiff-upper-lip without having a sense of humour about how ridiculous such attitudes were.

    In short, watching most of The Deep Blue Sea made me glad that the British New Wave came along and swept away most of this dross - and as a result, the film would have been vastly improved if Malcolm McDowell came running through the house with a machine gun, declaring a worldwide revolution.

    Rant over.

  • Comment number 28.

    I haven't seen it yet. I'm waiting for the blu ray in April. I just don't DO cinema these days. Great to have a new Terence Davies film to look forward to, though.

  • Comment number 29.

    Deep Blue, Spleep Schmu!!!

    This is just a diversion to delay from telling us what you think about RISE!!!

    Beware the beast Kermode, for he is the Devil's pawn. Alone among God's film buffs, he reviews for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder Danny Dyer to possess Danny Dyer's land. Let Kermode not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and your Multiplex. Shun him; drive him back into his picture house, for he is the harbinger of death.

  • Comment number 30.

    "Words or less?" Shouldn't it be "words or fewer" or am I mistaken?

  • Comment number 31.

    @ 29

    Dear darren,
    dont do that to me again! I laughed so hard i nearly broke a rib !!

  • Comment number 32.

    I thought the acting was superb - Simon Russell Beale and Tom Hiddlestone were brilliant - and it was beautifully shot, but if I'm honest, it felt just a little bit too stagey for my liking. It's a powerful piece no doubt, but I'd have reigned in some of the emotion and let the camera and hopelessness of the situation provide the rest...

    It's brave and accomplished film-making though and definitely deserves a place at the table - a welcome escape from the usual Hollywood fare.

  • Comment number 33.

    I watched Of Time and the City in Liverpool, and left having felt that Terence Davies had made something utterly brilliant.
    I left The Deep Blue Sea feeling very little. The timing between shots was amateuresque. The leading actress could act but the others were dismal. The opening dialogue of the male lead talking about the battle of britain was cliched and unbelievable. The script development was abysmal. What change can we really say we have experienced when watching the ex-fighter pilot and the divorcee from beginning to end? Very little. The drama of us fearing that she might commit suicide was all but removed when it was shown in the first few minutes! The landlady was great. The scene of her nursing the very unwell old man and musing on real love was great. Perhaps the film should have centred around this or ran that thread from beginning to end. I paid £7.50 for the ticket. If cinema tickets were refundable, I would have asked for my money back. As it is, I was left not only bored and unmoved but out of pocket. Compare this film to Sylvia, about Sylvia Plath's struggle with suicide. There we have a film that explains, as far as is possible, a character's reasons for such tragic actions. Here, we don't really know why she is so in love with this man. There is no explanation of his greatness or her emotional ill health. And as for the 'Singing Detective' style choral scenes by the minor actors. This was just bland period nostalgia in the pub and the tube station. Along with so many other elements, it jarred with the core of the film which was bound to a script that had little going for it from the start.

  • Comment number 34.

    I am astonished that so many of the comments here are positive. The film suffers from so many faults I can't decide where to start. To save time, I would refer anyone thinking of seeing this to the awful scene between Hester, her husband and his mother. It is one of the most crudely acted and scripted scenes I have seen at the cinema. It reminds the viewer of the worst sort of television drama with its painting by numbers approach to social class and the stultified relationship between the three characters. Think of something like Miss Marple for the level of insight into British society. Worse still, think of Eastenders for the mawkish scenes in the post war pub where Hester and her ludicrous RAF sterotype lover play out there story against a backdrop of good old cockneys enjoying a knees up round the ol' joanna. It really is that bad. So bad in fact that I don't know what happened in the end because I really didn't care enough to stay. I didn't care because of the flimsy script, the one dimensional characters, the unexplained relationships, the clumsy attempt to recreate an era. If I had to find a postive, I would say that visually the film was appealing to a degree - that's what lured me in I suppose. Sadly, it failed to deliver at any other level. People who like this are probably big fans of Catherine Cookson adaptations because it operated at that level of subtlety.

  • Comment number 35.

    *edit* their story.



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