Terence Davies latest film returns to the period of two of his two best-known movies. The first of which was his debut feature film Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) This film focused on the real life experiences of Davies mother, sisters and brother whose lives were blighted by their brutal sadistic father. It’s a portrait of working class life in the 1940’s and 50’s Liverpool. Davies followed this up with The Long Day Closes (1992) another film that evokes the 1950’s, set in the Liverpool of his childhood. This autobiographical story display’s a montage of memories of the eleven-year-old boy. His latest film moves the location to North London but maintains the same post war timeframe. Davies was approached on behalf of the Sir Terence Rattigan Charitable Trust by producer Sean O’Connor to make The Deep Blue Sea (2011) as part of the writer’s centenary celebrations.
|Hester loves Freddie but does Freddie really love Hester?|
Davies free adaptation of Terence Rattigan’s 1952 stage play imparts the story of a 40ish married woman who leaves a 50ish loving husband and a comfortable life style for passion and sexual love an unusual thing for a women at that time. The film opens with an attempted suicide in front of an unlit gas fire that’s thwarted by the landlady and other tenants of the shabby boarding house in North London where Hester Collyer now lives with her lover the hard drinking Freddie Page a former RAF pilot who’s never recovered from the heightened experience’s of the Battle of Britain. We discover through flashbacks that Hester had left her kind and adoring husband, the High Court Judge Sir William Collyer in an attempt to find a passionate love affair with the emotionally immature Freddie. The movie very quickly demonstrates that all has not succeeded quite as planned.
This emotional triangle features some beautifully controlled acting from all three main protagonists. Rachel Weisz exposes the barely repressed sexuality of Hester, with Tom Hiddleston as the alluring Freddie, while Simon Russell Beale does a wonderfully restrained portrayal of Sir William. The casting of all three is exquisite each one totally convincingly at depicting the pain and anguish involved in this three-way relationship.
|The hurt is obvious in Sir Williams eyes!|
Terence Davies is probably one of cinema’s most underrated filmmakers, something I’ve never been able to comprehend. All of his films are exquisitely composed pieces of work. His trademark use of colour and composition of the lighting coupled with softness of focus and fluency of its camera work, this time by German DP Florian Hoffmeister, coupled with innovative use of music that always forms part of the narrative including the requisite communal sing-alongs. Davies is a director that always original and leaves a lasting impression on all connoisseurs of good film.
Coincidently part of the film was shot in Granville Square London WC1 just around the corner from where I first went to school, I had school friends living in the Square at the same time as this wonderfully composed drama was set!