The Deep End

The Deep End

The Deep End is a remake of a thriller from fifty years earlier, with the main difference being a switch from a heterosexual relationship to a homosexual one.

I stayed with it the whole way without having to force it, so I can’t say it didn’t hold my interest, but in the end I don’t know that I got much out of it. It’s the kind of movie where I was expecting a lot of little surprises and twists and turns, or maybe one big switcheroo like that at the end, but it just kind of plods along in a way that makes what few revelations there are seem rather ho hum. I’m not sure why. Even when it was something I in some sense didn’t see coming, it never startled me, had a significant emotional impact on me, made me nod in appreciation of its cleverness, or anything like that.

It’s not one of the more obscure movies I’ve seen, but there are some things about it I’m not real clear on. Then in reading a little about the movie afterward, I came across a couple of speculative interpretations of certain things that hadn’t occurred to me while I was watching it. It may be there’s a little more depth, a little more complexity to this movie than how I experienced it.

The storyline involves a woman trying to cover up a murder, and then dealing with blackmailers who threaten to send evidence to the police that could cast suspicion on her teenage son.

She is not a single mother, but she functions as one. Her husband is inaccessible off somewhere in the Navy, and she is taking care of their three children and her elderly father-in-law in their home in Lake Tahoe.

There are aspects of the film that don’t ring true to me, but I’m kind of undecided about that. It may be that they involve irrational but not therefore unlikely behavior (since people routinely act irrationally). Or it may be that they seem unrealistic to me, but only because I’ve never been in anything remotely like the situation these people are in, and really they’re not unrealistic. Or it may be that they violate some kind of expectations I had based on movie conventions, rather than being unrealistic relative to real life.

Or maybe I’m right that they’re just plain unrealistic.

For instance, one of the blackmailers discovers his conscience and ends up trying to help her instead of victimize her. And I’m inclined to say that’s just not what people like that do, but who knows? My years volunteering at a maximum security prison taught me that criminals are far from simplistically, consistently evil, that their behavior can also reflect any of the same virtues anyone else has, so I suppose it could happen. It just doesn’t feel real here though.

I’m also skeptical that someone would pay blackmailers in this woman’s situation, because there’s zero incentive for the blackmailers to keep their end of the deal. It’s not like they’re honorable people and their word means something. Whatever amount they demand, once she pays it, why wouldn’t they say, “OK, now bring us the same amount next week,” and keep saying that forever? And presumably she would know that. But I guess people do sometimes pay blackmailers in a situation like that.

I also had trouble buying the notion that while all this murder and blackmail stuff is going on, she’d stick so closely to her normal routine and live a normal life with her family. I mean, she’s having to coordinate meeting the blackmailers with dropping the kids off for soccer and such. I know she doesn’t want to let on anything is going on, but wouldn’t you make up some excuse to drop most of your responsibilities or get away entirely until this is settled? People get out of laundry and driving kids to ballet practice and all that with far, far less reason and families survive.

I’m really not sure what to think of this movie. As I alluded to, there may be more going on, or at least more possible interpretations, than I picked up on. I didn’t see a lot of surprises and shocking plot twists and such, but maybe because it only hints around at those things. Maybe it leaves certain openings where stuff like that is available as an explanation but not compelled by the evidence.

One reason it was fairly easy to stick with this film in spite of it not having a good solid air of suspense to it is that it’s very professional looking. The acting is fine, there are visually pleasing scenes, it’s edited smoothly, etc. It’s not one of those obscure, amateurish, low budget indies.

So, I guess The Deep End is OK. I suspect it’s one of those movies, though, that would be especially valuable to see with other people and then talk about afterward. It’s possible I would see it in a different light once I heard what other people got from it.

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