‘Deep Water’: Ben Affleck seems bored playing another unhappy husband
Meanwhile, Ana de Armas goes over the top as his cheating wife in a thriller that tries but fails to be sexy.
The disappointingly flat and decidedly un-erotic non-thriller “Deep Water” is the kind of movie that has you thinking about other movies as you tap your toes impatiently, waiting for this great-looking but dumb and bloody mess to swirl around the drain and disappear.
- Hey, there’s Ben Affleck playing an aimless, brooding, hot-headed mope trapped in a loveless marriage to a wife who rubs his nose in their unholy union, just like in “Gone Girl!”
- Oh, and this is an adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith novel about sophisticated and duplicitous types, a la “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” which starred Ben’s buddy Matt Damon!
- Also, “Deep Water” marks a return to sexy noir material for Adrian Lyne, who directed “9 ½ Weeks,” “Fatal Attraction,” “Indecent Proposal,” “Lolita” and “Unfaithful” but hasn’t made a film in 20 years.
Hulu presents a film directed by Adrian Lyne and written by Zach Helm and Sam Levinson, based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith. Rated R (for sexual content, nudity, language and some violence). Running time: 115 minutes. Available Friday on Hulu.
Too bad ALL of those films are superior to this unpleasant dreck, with Affleck looking like he’d rather be anywhere else in the world throughout the story (even though a romance was kindled with his co-star Ana de Armas at the time and led to some mean/funny memes), and the talented supporting cast floundering about in underwritten roles.
Affleck plays Vic Van Allen (a name that makes him sound like an American Basketball Association point guard from the 1970s), who made a killing, so to speak, developing a computer chip used in warfare drones and now spends his days and nights puttering about the house, shooting death glances and making snarky remarks directed toward his sexy, free-spirited, annoyingly self-centered wife Melinda (Ana de Armas). The Van Allens have a 6-year-old daughter named Trixie and Vic dotes on her while Melinda barely pays attention to the girl, who unfortunately seems to be a graduate of the Children’s Academy for Overacting. (It doesn’t help that we get not one but TWO moments of the kid singing along to Leo Sayer’s “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing,” one of the most obnoxiously irritating pop songs of all time.)
Despite seeming to have it all, Vic and Melinda are trapped in a marriage so devoid of love, respect and common decency that we wonder how they ever got together in the first place. At a party hosted by Vic’s best buddy Nash (Lil Rel Howery), we learn there’s actually an ugly side to the marriage: Melinda openly flirts with and has affairs with younger men, flaunting the hookups in front of her husband, who seems to be OK with it even as his eyes fill with rage. (“You’re concerned that they’re f- - -ing?” Vic says to his pal. “What if your concerns aren’t my concerns?” Keep telling yourself that, Vic ol’ boy.)
Melinda’s latest squeeze is a cartoonishly dopey bro-hunk named Joel (Brendan C. Miller), who stupidly accepts an invitation for dinner at the spacious Van Allen manor; tells Vic, “I’m not trying to re-masculate you,” and doesn’t seem as concerned as he should be about Vic “joking” to him that he killed Melinda’s previous lover.
The recently ubiquitous (and that’s a great thing) Tracy Letts wanders in as a pompous local writer who considers Vic a war criminal because of that computer chip thingee, is convinced Vic is a killer and starts nosing around, which might not be a good idea in a movie like this. (Even the great Tracy Letts can’t make this guy believable.) Jacob Elordi from “Euphoria” has finally graduated and is playing a 30-ish pianist who takes up with Melinda. Nothing roles abound in this glossy trash.
The screenplay by Zach Helm (“Stranger Than Fiction”) and Sam Levinson (“Euphoria”) tries to make us believe Vic is equal parts turned on and repulsed by Melinda’s serial philandering, but the sex scenes between Affleck and de Armas are about as erotic as the feeling you get when you jump into a freezing shower. Affleck looks distracted and uninvolved, while de Armas, who can be terrific in the right roles, gives an embarrassingly over-the-top performance as a woman who seems more unhinged than calculating, more desperate than independently sexual. (Melinda also seems to resent the very fact she has a child, telling Vic, “That was YOUR choice.” What a gal.)
“Deep Water” reaches its nadir when Vic and Melinda talk to a psychotherapist, and Vic says, “Do you think my wife has schizophrenic tendencies?” and Melinda retorts, “You’re such an a------. Do you think my husband might be schizophrenic for asking that, or just an a------?”
Answer: ALL OF THE ABOVE.