Postwar England has been a recurring and vital setting for Terence Davies. His semi-autobiographical masterpieces Distant Voices, Still Lives and The Long Day Closes, as well as the bulk of his rapturous documentary Of Time and the City, take place largely in the fifties and movingly evoke the hardship and camaraderie of that era.
The Deep Blue Sea is also a product of that age. An adaptation of a famous play by British playwright Terence Rattigan, it features one of the greatest roles for an actress in modern theatre; Peggy Ashcroft, Vivien Leigh, Penelope Keith and Blythe Danner have all taken a swing at it. Joining them now in an impossibly intimate and deeply vulnerable performance is Rachel Weisz. She plays Hester Collyer, the former wife of a high-WASP judge, now the nearly abandoned lover of a drunken former World War II pilot. Emotionally stranded and physically isolated, she attempts suicide to win him back and perhaps also to send a message to her former husband. Her gesture serves only to estrange her more from the men in her life and reality itself.
Davies cleverly strips away many of the play’s supporting characters and expands the film visually and psychologically into Lady Collyer’s dream life. Gently abstracted flashbacks take us into luminous cinematographic landscapes, including a bravura tracking shot through an underground station during the Blitz. But it is the unrelenting focus on Weisz — her face, her pain — in long, masterfully composed takes that draws us inside her utter desperation and the desperation of the British people, struggling to rebuild their society after a calamitous war and the loss of an Empire. –TIFF
Terence Davies was born in Liverpool on 10 November 1945, the youngest child in a large working-class family. After working for ten years as a clerk in a shipping office and a book-keeper in an accountancy firm, he entered Coventry School of Drama in 1971. There he wrote the script for Children, which he directed after he left with backing from the BFI Production Board. He then went to the National Film School, where he completed Madonna and Child as his graduation film in 1980. Three years later, thanks to funding from the Greater London Arts Association and the BFI, he made Death and Transfiguration. These three short to medium-length films comprise The Terence Davies Trilogy, which put him on the cinematic map as one of the most original British film-makers of the late 20th century.
In the Trilogy and the two films that followed, Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) and The Long Day Closes (1992), Davies reconstructs his childhood and youth in a working-class district of Liverpool… read more
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Title: The Deep Blue Sea
Country: USA, UK
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director: Terence Davies
The Deep Blue Sea is a period piece chronicling the decline of a depressed woman as she destroys the relationships around her. As the film drags along, director Terence Davies reveals that there is… read review
Terence Rattigan’s women always appear to me like figures in Edward Hopper’s atmospheric oil paintings: solitary, sitting… read review