When filming began back in November 2019, I don’t think any of the cast or crew expected it would take this long for Deep Water to release. After Disney acquired 20th Century Fox, the film fell into this limbo, to the point where it was sold to Prime Video in the UK and Hulu in the United States for streaming. And after watching the movie, I’m not shocked in the slightest that the family-friendly Disney brand didn’t want to release this because it is the complete opposite of their so-called image.

Based on a novel written by Patricia Highsmith, Deep Water follows Vic (Ben Affleck – Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Gone Girl) and Melinda Van Allen (Ana de Armas – Knives Out, No Time to Die) who are a couple in the small town of Little Wesley. Their loveless marriage is held together only by a precarious arrangement whereby, in order to avoid the messiness of divorce, Melinda is allowed to take any number of lovers as long as she does not desert her family. Vic becomes fascinated with the unsolved murder of one of Melinda’s former lovers, Malcolm McRae, and, in order to drive away her current fling, takes credit for the killing. However, when the real murderer is apprehended, Vic’s claims are interpreted by the community as dark jokes.

From the opening scene, Adrian Lyne’s direction immerses you into the lives of this married couple. Very quickly you understand who these people are and can see why their relationship is falling apart. The script is very deliberate in showing these events from the perspective of Ben Affleck’s Vic and why he feels a specific way and also Armas’ Melinda’s point of view on why she wants to have these flings with people whilst she is still married. The film is anchored by two fantastic performances from Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas who give two truly twisted performances here.

Affleck channels his inner Gone Girl in this movie, showcasing his range as an actor. His character is dark and there is a hint of jealousy in his character all the way through the film. When you’re watching his character have to witness what he calls “the love of his life” have affair-after-affair, you can sympathise with him and want him to, this’ll sound corny but, ‘win her back’.  This is a tour-de-force performance from Affleck and genuinely one of his best performances in years.

Ana de Armas is also sensational here, playing a gripping and unpredictable character. Melinda is the focus of the film and if it wasn’t for her terrific performance, the film wouldn’t have worked as well as it did. This is easily Armas’ best performance to date and one that chews up every scene she is in.

However, my main, and only, problem with the film is revolving the third act. The movie begins as a slow-burn and maintains that pace for around ninety minutes of the runtime then in the last twenty-five minutes runs at the speed of a bullet. It flies through so much in very little time then abruptly ends with very little emotional payoff. If it added an extra fifteen minutes to the runtime, it could’ve easily have been smoothened out to create a classic in the ‘erotic thriller’ sub-genre.

Adrian Lyne’s Deep Water is a gripping thriller with a powerhouse performance from Ben Affleck and a career-best performance from Ana de Armas. It is a tense, slow-burn of a film that is unpredictable at every turn and pulls you in from the opening scene eager for more. It is certainly a thriller that will be talked about a lot for years to come.

Deep Water will be available to stream on Prime Video from 18th March

 

 

 

By Charlie McGivern

Charlie McGivern is a Manchester, UK based writer, film and television critic who likes to watch movies and write about them for Filmhounds.