The Deep Blue Sea

10 April 2012 | 2:15 pm | Vicki Englund

British writer/director Terence Davies has made some memorable and sometimes devastating films, from Distant Voices and its companion piece Still Lives to The Long Day Closes to The House Of Mirth. Davies is a fan of the melodramas of the 1940s and '50s so it's no surprise he's adapted this piece by Terence Rattigan (The Browning Version, The Winslow Boy) set post-WWII about an emotionally tortured woman.
Oscar winner Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener, Requiem For A Dream) is luminous as Hester, who's married to a judge (Simon Russell Beale). But when she meets the charming, younger Freddie (Tom Hiddleston) she falls for him completely and sacrifices everything to be with him. Hester has discovered erotic love and can never go back. So why has she attempted suicide the day we meet her?
Weisz is perfect in this demanding role of a woman who flouts society at a time when that was very brave. You really feel for her, and the emotional centre of the film is her struggle to be free despite the temptation instead to be safe.
As with the 1940s melodramas, the soundtrack is often overwrought but Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto is moving and emotive. One scene guaranteed to bring a lump to your throat is a flashback to the war when people hid in the underground tube stations and sang songs to block out the noise of the bombs. Beautiful.