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'Deep Water' is best not taken too seriously

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In Deep Water, Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas are a married couple. He designed a microchip used in drone warfare and retired a very rich man, she likes to date other men. Quite openly. Affleck claims he doesn’t want to control what his wife does, but he also says he’s not jealous, which seems to be an obvious lie, especially considering some of the “other men” turn up missing or dead. We’re not sure if this is a terrible coincidence or collateral damage, but that’s probably a distinction without a difference, at least to the dead people.

Deep Water is the first movie in 20 years from the director Adrian Lyne, who’s often regarded for his skill with erotic dramas and thrillers such as Fatal Attraction and 9 ½ Weeks. And if you’re looking for a return to that level of heat, you’re likely to be disappointed—there’s certainly more sex and passion than we usually get from our current neutered movie climate, though compared to Lyne’s heyday, it’s quite tame. But it’s easy to miss the reason for this, and that is that the movie is only dressed up as an erotic thriller. I suppose it is still that, but it’s even more a psychosexual drama about two extremely good-looking, extremely strange people in a co-dependent relationship. These two feed on each other, and it’s likely there’s no one else in the world who can provide them with what they really need. In a way, it’s kind of sweet.

Your expectations will almost certainly play into all this—me, I had none either way, although I love Patricia Highsmith, who wrote the book this was based on, and who has a devious sense of humor, and so by the end I was cackling with delight at some of the silliness. And as for the snails—yes, you heard me, the snails—I wouldn’t try to read too much into them. The way Lyne glowingly photographs their undulating mucusy musculature should tell you all you need to know about his approach to Deep Water, and how seriously we should take the whole thing.

Deep Water is on Hulu.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.