Monday Morning Movie Review: Deep Water (2022)

Do you like psychological thrillers, Ana de Armas, and snails?  If so, you’ll love Deep Water (2022), the story of loveless couple Vic (Ben Affleck) and Melinda (de Armas) Van Allen.

The Van Allens live in an opulent Louisiana town, one that apparently is constantly hosting parties in a kind of never-ending Great Gatsby cycle of good times.  Vic designed the guidance chip in drones, and now lives in comfortable retirement with his insane wife and his precocious daughter, the latter of which sports the unfortunate name “Trixie.”

Melinda constantly and flagrantly carries on flirtations and affairs with younger mother, often quite openly during the various high-life soirees the couple attends.  Vic begrudgingly allows his wife to carry on in this manner, even as his friends express concern.  His philosophy is to let his wife make her own decisions, a philosophy he also extends to his daughter (who opted to attend a—gasp!—public school, rather than a tony private one).

Of course, there’s only so much humiliation one man can take, and despite his Hosea-esque patience with his wife’s adulterous shenanigans, Vic finally—in his own, quiet way—snaps.

A great deal of the appeal of this movie—besides the aforementioned Ana de Armas playing a riotous sexpot—is trying to figure out the nature of the Van Allens’s deeply messed up relationship.  Rather than respecting her husband for his loose grip on her, Melinda resents him, questioning his manhood and deriding his lack of passion.  When he dances with the attractive wife of new neighbor, the suspicious mystery writer Don Wilson, Melinda’s attraction for her husband is restored, albeit briefly.

When he kills for her, it drives her crazy—first with angry grief, then with desire.  When Vic asks Melinda why she is not afraid of him, she responds, “Because I’m the thing you killed for.”  Yikes!

Again, this couple is messed up.  Caught in the crossfire is their daughter, who strangely enough never seems too taken aback by her parents’ marital warfare.  After Vic drowns one of her wife’s lovers in the pool during a rainstorm—there are no witnesses, but it’s clear he committed the crime to the viewer, and to Melinda and Don—his daughter intuitively knows.  She then matter-of-factly asks her father how he did it, though he continues to deny to her that he did.

Talk about a weird family.  On top of it all, Vic’s hobby is collecting and raising snails.  I struggled initially to understand the significance of the snails to the story, until I read this Entertainment Weekly interview with the on-set snail wrangler (what a great job title).

Basically, there are two reasons for the snails:

  • They represent a kind of animal that is without guile or deceit, and simply exist with one another (and reproduce like mad, apparently, unlike the strained Vic and Melinda); as Max Anton, the snail handler put it, “the snails were arguably the least slimy characters in the story.”
  • The author of the 1957 novel on which the film is based, Patricia Highsmith, apparently loved snails, and would carry around a handbag full of lettuce and about 100 snails, so it seems she just shoehorned them into this story of marital misconduct.

The film overall is a bit hit-or-miss, but it achieved what a thriller is supposed to achieve:  a sense of uncertainty and suspense.  Another of Melinda’s former lovers, Martin McRae, has gone missing, and Vic subtly threatens her latest boy toy by claiming to be the killer.  That guy survives (escaping to a new job in New Mexico), and McRae’s real killer is caught.  Still, the claim casts doubt upon Vic, especially on the part of Don Wilson, who despises Vic almost from the outset.

For my more prudish readers, a note of warming:  it’s a pretty, uh, sexual film.  Some reviewers classify it as an “erotic thriller,” so be warned.  For some of you, however, that might be further inducement to see it.

Regardless, it’s a pretty good example of the psychological thriller, though better ones do exist.  If you’ve got a couple of hours on a dark night, though, you could do worse than 2022’s Deep Water.

16 thoughts on “Monday Morning Movie Review: Deep Water (2022)

  1. I wonder about this sort of film in today’s environment. I get the impression that it’s part of the immoral message being sold nowadays, which tends to lead me away from watching it. Plus, Ben Affleck is in it. Early Affleck in Kevin Smith films, before either of them became wet Woke, is passable. Not so much now.

    Dark Waters, by the way, is also the name of an Asian horror, predictably remade for the American audience with Jennifer Connolly. A nice though repetitive ghost story.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, there’s definitely some messaging going on here. But there’s also an underlying strain: don’t marry a riotous woman; if you do, you’ve got to keep her in line, because that’s secretly what she craves. Melinda’s character is really despicable; having dated a crazy Latina (I’ll accept my Purple Heart now, thank you), the character’s cutting remarks and mockery really came across as genuine.

      I’ll have to check out _Dark Waters_. Sounds like an interesting flick. Some of the best horror flicks coming out now are Asian films.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You mentioned The Great Gatsby in your review. If you’ve read the book and watched the numerous films based on it, you’ll see that Daisy is also a despicable character. For different reasons though to the modern incarnations. Context, you see. That’s a word that’s not bandied around much these days.

        I thought I might free up some of your time by writing reviews for my Top 10 worst films of all time. I’ll have to think about it – I’ve sat through the most horrible tripe and, you’ll know, there’s an awful lot of it – and the list is interchangeable but the worst film, in my opinion, is not. I’ll try very hard not to swear (if I do, I’ll asterisk).

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Yeah…no. I think I’ll pass. But I enjoy your reviews so don’t think my decision to not watch has anything at all to do with your critique.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Oops. I don’t know why I saw dark and not deep. One of those first thing in the morning anomalies.

    Weirdly, I also could have seen Open Water which is a shark film.

    I think this is one of those occasions of engaging brain before letting my fingers do the walking. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. ‘I would love to publish your list of the ten worst films of all time. I’m eager to see what you judge to be the worst ever.’

    We might find some agreement on that! 🙂

    As for a long anticipated sequel to Waterworld, Waterworld didn’t need a first film never mind more! That’d be like washing your dirty underwear in cowpat and then putting them back on! 🙂

    That won’t feature in my Top 10 though. As crap as it was, there are much worse films in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Port; do you remember me telling you about listening to the Walking Dead instead of watching it because I’ve watched it to often? I was able to find this episode on YT. Please listen to the atmosphere (123, 123, 123) superimposed over the song and see the kind of impact it has. I probably would never had noticed it when I was viewing the episode. Tell me what you think. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hp6NlJ31ETE

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry for the delayed response, Audre. The persistent counting is an interesting element. It definitely gives a sense of both atmosphere and subdivided rhythm to this ballad. I don’t know the show well enough to comment on the relevance to the characters, but it did work for this opening montage.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Never a problem, Port.

        The thing I was discussing is that you don’t need to know the series; the music, even some of the sounds the zombies make, is so … different. Because of your music knowledge, I think you’d hear orchestration – like a regular orchestra playing a piece – with some other ‘stuff’ added, that you’d find it interesting and could discuss it here on your blog. I don’t know nuthin’ bout no music (remember Prissy from Gone With The Wind?) but you do.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I could definitely analyze this piece in more detail. The “one-two-three one-two-three one-two-three one-two-three one-two” basically sets four sets of triples and two sets of duples against the standard four-beat tempo. I think it works out to six beats in total, but I need to listen again, which I will do this evening.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I find this ‘piece’ so compelling; it creates an immediacy and also a portent of something coming that both stands outside the ‘song’ but also intertwines with it. I just find it fascinating.

        Liked by 1 person

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