An erotic thriller you wish would drown.
Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas are two of the best talents around, but not even they could survive “Deep Water,” an erotic thriller from director Adrian Lyne, in his first entry since “Unfaithful.” There are moments that are laughably bad, moments that are painfully bad, and moments too stupid for us to even comprehend.
Affleck plays family man Vic Van Allen, who lets his wife Melinda (Armas) be in an opened marriage, so he can avoid divorce. That means she can sleep with as much men as she likes, and he still won’t divorce her. They both have a little girl named Trixie (Grace Jenkins), whom Vic is more responsible with than Melinda is. “It was your choice to have a kid,” she says. He also tells her to stop seeing the current man, and that currant man is found dead in their pool.
Based on his motives, he could be the murderer. And if he was, it was his choice for resorting to drastic measures. He was the one who refused to divorce her, and let her sleep with any man she can sink her claws into. It may be based on Patricia Highsmith’s 1957 novel, but I’m still convinced director Adrian Lyne is really fascinating by the eroticism. After all, she also made “Fatal Attraction,” “Indecent Proposal,” and “Unfaithful,” among others.
There are many other talents, who have the potential to be serious, but can’t even seem to overcome the movie’s motives. Lil Rel Howery and Dash Mihok are two of Vic’s friends; Brandan Miller, Finn Wittrock and Jacob Elordi are a few of his wife’s lovers; and Tracy Letts plays a pulp fiction writer and family friend. Howery and Mihok don’t do anything special, Miller, Wittrock, and Elordi are all formulaic, and Letts has to be part of one of the movie’s most ridiculous moments.
The supposedly funniest moments in the film regard the little girl having Alexa play “Old MacDonald” over and over to the point of trying to drive her mom over the edge. I myself was being tickled by that. And there’s also a chase scene when the killer rides a bike while chasing a witness in his car. I kept thinking. Why are you gonna do? Crash your bike into it? No. He just has to make hims swerve the car off a hill and into a river.
Affleck’s best performance in recent memory comes from “The Way Back,” which reflected on his life as an alcoholic. In “Deep Water,” the movie reflects on his role in “Gone Girl,” but it’s missing the powerful urge for us to be reeled into his life. And Armas, whom I gave her best performance in “Knives Out,” is utterly wasted as the nympho wife, who doesn’t deserve a single ounce of sympathy. She’s supposed to be the unfaithful wife, but she seems to know more about being mean and lousy than actually trying to be a woman. I may be a man, but even I respect women. This one is a piece of meat. I love these two talents, but they both overact so rapidly, it’s impossible to like them.
“Deep Water” is a desperate, cynical, and predictable thriller that cares about nothing and no-one, but rather it’s more interested in the fornication and murders. A brilliant erotic thriller is supposed to ease you into the dangers, and test you limits with its twists and turns. It’s supposed to be provocative and smart, but this one is irritating and dumb.
And about the “Old MacDonald” song. It’s not exactly a brilliant erotic thriller, when it has to be the last song during the end credits.
Streaming on Hulu This Friday