Main cast: Tilda Swinton (Margaret Hall), Goran Višnjić (Alek Spera), Jonathan Tucker (Beau Hall), Peter Donat (Jack Hall), Josh Lucas (Darby Reese), and Raymond Barry (Carlie Nagel)
Directors: Scott McGehee and David Siegel
Poor Margaret Hall. Her husband is away at sea (he’s in the Navy) and she is left alone to deal with her three children. Her father-in-law Jack is of some help, but some things Margaret has to do alone, such as trying to get that sleazy Darby Reese away from her teenage son Beau. When Beau and Darby fight during an aborted lover’s tryst behind Margaret’s back, and Darby turns up dead the next morning, Margaret decides to push Darby’s body into Lake Tahoe. Nobody will know, right? Well, soon Alek Spera shows up on Margaret’s doorstep with an incriminating videotape. He wants fifty thousand dollars by the next day in exchange for his silence.
As Margaret begins scrambling frantically to find the money, Alek is more affected by this woman than he would like to believe. The house, the family that Margaret has – awww, how can the poor lonely man resist?
The Deep End may present itself as a Hitchcockian drama, but it’s actually a delicious romance story in disguise. It’s not a conventional boy-meets-girl story, but it’s a love story nonetheless. The movie doesn’t even pretend that Alek Spera is anything but a guy who will eventually do the right thing. Goran Višnjić abuses his beautiful eyes and oh-so-gorgeous face to put on a lovelorn puppy face that is more heartwarming than menacing. Everything about him screams “Poor little lonely bad boy – will you be the gallant lady who will unlock the passions inside my icy heart?” If I’m Margaret, I’ll divorce that no-use never-there hubby and marry this guy. And I suspect that I am supposed to feel this way.
Because of the genuine lack of suspense in this movie, it is a good thing that the cast does a wonderful job shaping the movie into a very compelling drama. Tilda Swinton’s Margaret is brusque, frantic at times, vulnerable at other times, but there’s no doubt that she’s a strong woman loyal to her family. From Ms Swinton’s expression as she brings out the complicated feelings Margaret is experiencing, it is clear that Margaret is also slowly becoming as fascinated with Alek as he is with her. Swinton commands this movie with her mesmerizing presence and subtle yet powerful performance, but Mr Višnjić and the other cast members complement her performance well. Beau and Margaret’s relationship is another well-done aspect of this movie – these two have their problems with each other, but it’s clear at the end of the day that they love each other. The script captures the nuances of that relationship very well.
While I enjoy watching this movie, especially for its subtle yet elegant way with understated turbulent emotions that run wild underneath the main characters’ facade, I find the resolution of Margaret’s problems more of a “What on earth?” moment. It feels rushed, it hits me out of the blue, although I suspect that those romantic-at-heart types in the audience will be in tears at the penultimate scene between Alek and Margaret. But this resolution reduces Alek into a mere means to an end where the plot is concerned, and I’m not too pleased with that development. There are also quite a number of loose ends that are unresolved as well as questions that are never answered.
Still, The Deep End is a well-written and solidly acted drama that I really enjoyed watching, even though it works better as a drama than a crime story.