The Deep End


Action / Crime / Drama / Mystery / Romance / Thriller


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April 26, 2014 at 09:00 AM



Tilda Swinton as Margaret Hall
Josh Lucas as Darby Reese
Jonathan Tucker as Beau Hall
Goran Visnjic as Alek 'Al' Spera
720p 1080p
760.81 MB
23.976 fps
1hr 41 min
P/S 4 / 7
1.45 GB
23.976 fps
1hr 41 min
P/S 0 / 4

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by g_benett 8 / 10

Victims of love

Taking care of others often involves self-sacrifice, and mothers of most feather will put themselves in harm's way to shield their young. In the THE DEEP END, a modern retelling of Max Ophuls' 1946 thriller THE RECKLESS MOMENT, Margaret Hall is a mother of three willing to do whatever it takes to keep her family safe from the irrational forces that follow her teenage son home one night from a nightclub of ill repute. But mom, played with stoic intensity by Tilda Swinton, quickly learns that heroism doesn't fit on a calendar already packed with soccer practices, trumpet lessons and visits to the grocery store.

Superficially the story concerns a vicious run of bad luck. Noirish events are set in motion when Margaret tries to cover up the accidental death of her son's unsavory friend (Josh Lucas as a spookily playful predator). The next day a man with a dice tattoo on his neck knocks on her door and demands $50,000 to suppress a videotape linking her son to the death, which police have ruled a homicide. The dramatic heart of the film concerns Margaret's dealings with the blackmailer, cagily played by Goran Visnjic, ER's Slavic heartthrob in a less soapy but perversely related role. Mr. Visnjic is credible though never quite menacing as a predator in awe of, and ultimately vulnerable to, his tender prey.

Taken at this level THE DEEP END, luminously shot in the gambling resort of Lake Tahoe, is an eerie joy ride that leans heavily on coincidence to tangle then unknot its plot. But the presence of Tilda Swinton indicates that more is going on here than melodrama. Ms. Swinton is a brilliant post-feminist actress whose work sheds light on paradoxes of femininity and female power. Her earlier films include ORLANDO, in which she explored androgyny and immortality, and FEMALE PERVERSIONS, a Freudian critique of the feminist myth of "having it all." In THE DEEP END, Ms. Swinton's nuanced performance comments on motherhood as a source of both power and vulnerability. A woman may be willing to do anything for her son, as Margaret Hall clearly is, yet still be constrained by a "glass ceiling" of caregiving attachments that prevent her from achieving man-style success. In cinema, the latter typically means blowing the villains' brains out, something Margaret Hall might consider doing if she weren't so busy taking care of her kids and aging father-in-law.

Throughout the film Margaret tries but is unable to reach her husband, a Navy officer on an aircraft carrier somewhere in the mid-Atlantic. His unavailability is more than an inconvenience. Attempting to negotiate with the blackmailers, Margaret finds herself hamstrung when the bank refuses a critical withdrawal without her husband's say-so. Mr. Hall's conspicuous absence and his infirm father's burdensome presence amplify Margaret's predicament, showing how hollow the conventions of marriage and machismo can be. The fact that both men are soldiers, society's designated heroes, is no accident. They defend motherhood in the abstract while remaining blind to a real mother's needs.

Margaret Hall is Ms. Swinton's most reluctant feminist character to date, a woman whose maternal ferocity the family setting renders moot and who must ultimately rely on the kindness of strangers. Her performance transforms THE DEEP END from a good summer thriller to a dramatic critique of the politics of caregiving.

Reviewed by jhclues 7 / 10

Effective Character Study

The myriad effects of the natural instincts of a mother are at the heart of this film, which explores the positive aspects, as well as the inherent flaws of those same instincts. The ways in which an ordinary person will react under extraordinary circumstances often produces results that are most inexplicable; and when it's a mother responding to a situation in which her son is involved, the results may, in fact, be absolutely incomprehensible. And in such cases, decisions made quickly in the shadows of the subjective are often revealed as unconscionable in the cold light of objectivity, a scenario examined by writers/directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel, in their tension laced drama, `The Deep End,' starring Tilda Swinton.

Margaret Hall (Swinton) lives with her family in a picturesque lakeside home in Tahoe City, Nevada; but her life is about to become less than that offered by her distinctive surroundings. Her husband is away at sea on an extended tour of duty, and the care and responsibility of raising their three children has fallen to her. And all is not well. Her seventeen-year-old son, Beau (Jonathan Tucker), an aspiring musician who hopes to garner a scholarship to study music at college, has become involved with a man, Darby Reese (Josh Lucas) who owns a bar, The Deep End; and once she is aware of it, it's a situation of no little concern for a mother.

For her son's welfare, Margaret knows that this relationship-- whatever the context-- must end, and she goes to Reese, insisting that he leave her son alone. There is some question as to whether or not he agrees, but regardless, late that night he shows up at Margaret's home, where he entices Beau to come outside with him. Things go badly, and by the next morning, Margaret is embroiled in a situation beyond her wildest nightmares. Blinded by fear and concern for Beau, she does something out of character for any rational person, yet within the parameters established by the unconditional love of a mother for her son. It's an act that brings more bad news to her doorstep, in the form of a man named Alek Spera (Goran Visnjic). And it's the beginning of a series of events that will take her into places darker than any she has ever known.

McGehee and Siegel adapted their screenplay from the novel `The Blank Wall,' by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, and it's a taut thriller, to be sure; but it is so singular of purpose that it decidedly becomes more of a character study that focuses on Margaret, and the effects of that natural bond between mother and son that provides the catalyst for her motivation and the impetus of her actions. It's a story that clearly illustrates how even the most discerning individual (and most especially a mother) will abandon reason in the heat of the moment, giving way to the most primitive and basic instincts for survival that are inherently a part of the human condition. And though MeGehee and Siegel maintain the tension of the situation throughout the film, it does wear a bit thin along the way, and at least one pivotal element of the plot is questionable, and strains the credibility of the overall story. The real interest of the film, however, is the study of what the mother/son relationship is really all about, and how affecting it can be, especially under extreme circumstances.

What really makes the film work, though, and what maintains interest, is the performance by Tilda Swinton as Margaret. And it's quite a feat, given the fact that the emotional boundaries she is given to explore are somewhat limited, as the conflict begins even as the film begins, and Margaret is driven on and presented in an emotional state that gives her very little latitude in which to operate. To her credit, however, Swinton finds all of the variables one could expect in what is basically a lone emotion, which encompasses concern and apprehension, and she conveys them admirably; it is, in fact, what keeps the film afloat. Her portrayal of Margaret is subtle, concise and introspective, and most importantly, comes across quite naturally; all of which makes her character and her actions-- which on the surface and in the cold light of day may seem questionable-- convincing.

As Alek, Goran Visnjic gives a solid performance, though it somewhat lacks the kind of emotional depth that could have made this character more than what it is. Whether it is the way the character was written, or the way it was acted, there is an ambivalence to Alek that makes him less than believable. He looks good on the surface, and Visnjic does have some nice touches, but he doesn't tap into the absolute credibility that he needs. And it makes one aspect of the film seem a little too pat, as if the character is there merely as a means to an end, to help the story along and tidy up the resolution. It's a minor weakness, not worthy of blame; suffice to say that something apparently was missed in the translation of the material from page to screen. In retrospect, Visnjic does a good job with what he is given to work with.

In a smaller, but pivotal role, Josh Lucas gives a good performance as Reese, creating a character that is repugnantly smarmy, a guy whose influence over one's son would be any mother's nightmare. Lucas does exceptionally well in this regard, and with comparatively little screen time; he uses his time well, however, as it is the nature of his character more than anything else that gives credence to Margaret's actions.

The supporting cast includes Peter Donat (Jack), Raymond J. Barry (Carlie), Tamara Hope (Paige) and Jordan Dorrance (Dylan). As a thriller, this one has merit; but viewed as a character study/drama, `The Deep End' is even more engrossing. It's flawed, but it's still smart, thought provoking entertainment-- the magic of the movies. 7/10.

Reviewed by James E. Place ([email protected]) 10 / 10

Give this film another chance . . .

I saw this film last summer in the theaters and while it didn't do much for me at the time, something in it stayed with me. I rented it again and watched it twice more and am now convinced it is a terrific film.

A lot has been said about Swinton's portrayal of a frustrated housewife and she is brilliant, she carries the film with a head-on intensity.

But the screenplay should also be lauded. Yes, this is straight out of 1940's noir, but it all works.

A lot has been said about the sex and sexuality switch of Swinton's son, but it works perfectly. One might ask . . . why doesn't she ask her son about the body before she dumps it? But that would involve TALKING to her son about his sexuality. She'd rather bury the evidence, than ever admit to herself that her son is gay.

Over the course of the film, Swinton begins to understand her son better, she realizes that everyone has their secrets and desires. Her son also realizes the worry he has put his mother through. The last shot, of mother and son huddled together on the bed is of two strong-willed people finally understanding each other as equals. It's a wonderfully telling moment.

Be sure to watch this film more than once . . . it can be taken on many levels.


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