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The Deep Blue Sea: An Intense Film About All Consuming Love
Set in 1950s England, the film centres around Hester Collyer’s (Weisz) dilemma. Her relationship with her judge husband, William Collyer (Beale), is loving, stable and affords her a high level of material comfort. But while their life is perfect on paper, it lacks passion – which she finds in the arms of Freddie Page (Hiddleston); a considerably less wealthy RAF pilot who considers the war to be the highlight of his life. Refreshingly enough, the film doesn’t take the conventional ‘who will she choose?‘ approach. Hester picks Freddie and never wavers in her choice. Instead, she focuses on the destructive effects of obsessive love; on defining yourself in relation to another person and on unrequited love.
The film is intense and not just because it stars Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston, who probably have the most potent eyes in the business, though they are a large part of it. The film focuses almost singularly on emotions to the point where Hester barely considers the rational and materialistic sides of the equation. Her single-minded focus on following her heart creates the kind of slow burning, invigorating drama that keeps you riveted despite the small, intimate nature of the story being told.
The film would have never worked without its two phenomenal leads. To Weisz’s credit, Hester never seems flighty, insane or immature. She comes across more as a woman reacting to the stifling constraints placed upon her by her social rank; who decides to take matters into her own hands and it’s very understandable why she’d become infatuated with Freddie. There’s just something about Hiddleston that makes him seem like an old Hollywood star, born in the wrong era. He has the charm, the smirk and he wears suits incredibly well; definitely the kind of man who could sweep a well-to-do lady off her feet despite the financial gap. As a duo, their chemistry is off the charts and while the film isn’t a romance in the straightforward, happily-ever-after way, it’s incredibly passionate and occasionally heartbreaking.
Adding to the film’s intensity is its sheer visual beauty. The costumes and set design are simply stunning and the scenes are bathed in a golden glow that really romanticizes them. The cinematography takes full advantage of the beauty on display making it a gorgeous film to watch. And on top of that, the camera work is frequently breathtaking. There are plenty of long shots that really drag you into the scene and make you feel as though you’re drowning alongside Hester.
The film was originally a play and yet it’s perfectly suited to cinema where the nuances in the actors’ performances can be better appreciated. The story isn’t anything new but the heights it reaches in regards to toying with the viewer’s feelings before completely shattering them, are rather exceptional and due, in no small part, to the gorgeously old-fashioned score. It’s an impossibly romantic film, equally tragic and just devastatingly beautiful.
They would try anything as if they had no fear of failure. They weren’t afraid of screwing up because the process and the act of creation were the important parts; if the product ended up sucking it was no big deal because they’d already be at work on the next piece. At least that’s the vibe that the documentary gives off. It also helps that the modern day, grown-up No Wavers seem every bit as cool as they did back then.
Titled from a popular term which describes the early transfer of a young offender from a juvenile detention facility to an adult penitentiary, Starred Up is by no means an easy watch. However, as much as it is difficult to digest at times, there is a certain poetic beauty behind its seemingly violent and destructive quality that makes it difficult to look away from.
Shot within the walls of an abandoned Belfast prison, the film opens with troubled nineteen-year-old Eric Love (O’Connell) undergoing an embarrassing admittance process, involving a complete body strip down, as he’s transferred into an adult reformatory.
Immediately marked as a “single cell, high risk” type detainee, it doesn’t take long for Eric – whose frequent and violent outbursts got him relocated there in the first place – to stir up trouble and make enemies both with fellow inmates and security guards.
After a mistaken attack on another inmate lands the young delinquent into the disciplinary hands of the law, Eric is soon approached – and rescued – by the in-house therapist, Oliver Braumer (Friend), who believes that he can help the young man rehabilitate.
Unfortunately, getting to the root of Eric’s problems - and getting him to open up - is no easy task and Oliver - together with the other rehabilitating convicts - often find themselves the targets of both verbal and physical abuse. To top it off, Eric has to find a way to learn to share the walls of his new confinements with his estranged father, Nev (Mendelsohn), who is currently serving a life-sentence in the same prison.
Penned by first-time screenwriter Jonathan Asser – a former prison psychotherapist whose own experience with the British penal-system adds a hefty dose of authenticity and realism to the film – Starred Up, told through a series of wordless and violent expositions, is fuelled with gripping intensity which is hard to shake off. Relying on action, rather than words, the uniqueness – and the heart - of the story lies with the father-son narrative, whose bonding difficulties are depicted through the oppressiveness of life in prison.
Contributing to the movie’s relentless and uncompromising approach to despair and violence, O’Connell – mostly known for his role in the British TV-series Skins and recently seen as the lead in Angelina Jolie’s war-drama Unbroken – is an absolute standout; feral and unpredictable, his performance carries the film, while Mendelsohn is equally superb as a man whose persona and motives are seemingly hard to read.
Powerful, emotional but never too sentimental, Starred Up is a true British-prison drama classic whose quietly yielding power and passion for storytelling will leave you feeling captivated and moved.