'Deep Water' sinks despite solid performances by Affleck, de Armas

Phil on Film
Deep Water poster.jpg
Posted at 1:57 PM, Mar 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-16 15:57:01-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Stylish and mysterious, "Deep Water" has plenty of pieces in the right place. What's missing is a cohesive plot and muddled endgame, hanging its solid lead performances out to dry.

The thriller, which opens on Hulu Friday, plays its hand at crafting a sexy, oblique tale of lust, jealousy, and murder. But the primary emotion that lingers with it at the end is exhaustion.

The film is vintage Adrian Lyne, sticking with the sultry playbook he developed in "Indecent Proposal," "Fatal Attraction," and "9 1/2 Weeks." Like those films, "Deep Water" dwells on the problems of the rich and sexy.

The film sucks your attention from the jump, with a gape-eyed peek into the lives of Vic (Ben Affleck) and Melinda (Ana de Armas), who seethe with contempt for each other and dwell in misery despite their wealth and privilege.

Melinda is a much younger trophy wife who seems to resent motherhood and the controlling ways of Vic, who languishes in early retirement after having conquered the realm of drone microchips.

Vic is no fan of Melinda's tendency to flaunt her dalliances with "friends" who appear far too friendly to be friends. He subtly monitors here with a bubbly rage, masking his fury with snide asides and veiled threats.

As the story unfolds, Vic's mutterings about violent tendencies toward Melinda's beaus are alarming. Is he just joking or boasting, or do murderous motives lurk beneath his smirk?

You try to piece together the puzzle as Vic and Melinda go to wild parties, taunting one another by dancing or canoodling with members of the opposite sex as their aghast acquaintances figuratively tug at their shirt collars.

Affleck and de Armas revel in their hot and heavy roles, conjuring combustible chemistry that often sets the screen ablaze. But the fire metaphor also works too well for how the go-nowhere script combusts.

Lyne's film loses all its momentum by repeating the same setup and payoff, again and again, inching the plot toward its self-destruction. This film stops rather than ends, leaving you wanting less rather than more.

With no lifeline available, "Deep Water" fizzles with a dull dog paddle that stands in contrast to the swift currents that drove it forward in the beginning. The audience is left hung out to dry.

RATING: 2 stars out of 4.

Phil Villarreal is the senior real-time editor for KGUN 9. He is also a digital producer and host of "Phil on Film" seen weekly on Good Morning Tucson, Phil moved to KGUN after 17 years with the Arizona Daily Star. He is married and has four children. Share your story ideas and important issues with Phil by emailing phil.villarreal@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.