THE DEEP END (Scott McGehee, David Siegel, 2001) turns a long-forgotten novel, The Blank Wall (also the inspiration for Max Ophuls 1949's The Reckless Moment), into a compelling cinematic thriller. Tilda Swinton finds herself trapped outside the law by blackmailers when she tries to cover up a crime that her son may have committed. Not as wonderfully weird as McGehee and Siegel's first film, Suture, but The Deep End works as brilliant daylight noir. The narrative is more easily picked apart than a cheap scarf, but the directors convey a blue mood of all-encompassing dread beneath the beauty of the northern Nevada settings.
Some will say, "If she'd only thought things through...." Well, she didn't. This is the story of a woman who reacts as quickly as she can when she finds out her son's gay, his lover's dead and the body's beside the family dock. It's all held together by the psychological complexity of the principal character and the tensile strength of Swinton's performance. One of the year's 10 best. NNNN (December 21-22, Fox; and December 26, Paradise.) JOHN HARKNESS deep end delivers