THE DEEP BLUE SEA (Terence Davies). 98 minutes. Opens Friday (April 13). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNNN
The opening text of Terence Davies's The Deep Blue Sea tells us we're in "London, Around 1950," but where else would we be?
Davies lives to recreate that postwar era, with its pub singalongs and stiff-upper-lip endurance as the British people rebuild both literally and psychically after the Blitz.
Adapted from Terence Rattigan's play, The Deep Blue Sea spans two days in the life of Hester Collyer (Rachel Weisz), who's abandoned her comfortable marriage to a stuffy judge (Simon Russell Beale) for a younger, more sexually desirable man (Tom Hiddleston). It's just that living with that decision is much, much harder than she expected.
All three actors are terrific. Weisz, who's in virtually every shot, is mesmerizing. And if you only know Hiddleston as the bad guy from Thor, this will give you a sense of his range. Davies fixes his actors in period detail so exacting that even the dust on the chintz curtains seems vintage.
It's as if Douglas Sirk had been entrusted with Brief Encounter instead of David Lean, and taken the material in rather a more expressive direction. The result is a deliberate, absorbing melodrama in the best sense of the word.