If there is such a thing as a libido for cinema, then I will say the 2022 film “Deep Water” actively makes my desire to watch movies plummet. Which is ironic, because this so-called erotic thriller clearly wants to make its audience horny. But even Ana de Armas (“No Time to Die”) can’t save the movie equivalent of lathering your tastebuds with mayonnaise for two hours. It has a decently-sized budget and was funded by a major studio, but there is no real desire or spark on-screen from the cast or crew. Everyone involved seems solely interested in filler movies to buff up their IMDb profile; it’s as generic as it gets. It’s so vanilla that it’s difficult to come up with interesting words to describe it.
The film is about couple Vic (Ben Affleck, “Gone Girl”) and Melinda (de Armas), who are in a precarious agreement to keep their marriage intact (ironically, the actors could not keep their relationship intact long enough for this movie to be released, since they got together and subsequently broke up between the movie being made and distributed). In order to keep the family together, Melinda is allowed to have affairs with whomever she wants. Naturally, this ends up bothering Vic, and he becomes the object of suspicion when things start happening to Melinda’s lovers.
Because of this relationship, the audience is treated to a constantly sulking Affleck, which is at first quite amusing, but eventually, like almost everything else in this film, becomes deliriously dull. De Armas is unhinged, and her character is very unlikeable, with her constantly making irrational decisions. They have a daughter, who one might imagine would be Vic’s primary object of affection if he wasn’t so obsessed with snails. Yeah, Vic has a garage-sized collection of live snails — which brings me to the parts of the film I was most invested in: multiple scenes of Ben Affleck carefully caressing these pans of snails. Even though they were by far the most exciting aspect of the movie, the snails were not what elicited the rawest emotion in me. That award goes to the jump cut from the movie’s most intense sex scene to a little league soccer game.
The film is supposed to have loads of suspense and psychological tension, but it’s difficult for the suspense to work if the most thrilling scene in the film involves an SUV and a bicycle in a generic park. And there can’t be psychological tension if both lead characters can be figured out in the first few scenes. After the first half-hour or so, Vic and Melinda’s behaviors can be predicted very easily, which makes the remaining 90 minutes a snoozefest interspersed with the occasional Affleck-approved sulk or snail.
The ending is double-take-inducing; I was genuinely baffled by the swift whimper that was the climax and resolution. The established character traits and motivations fly out the window. The last few minutes are so anticlimactic that I actually cackled when the credits started rolling. There is pretty much no buildup or logical continuity that really explains this ending.
The biggest issue with this movie is just how unexciting the viewing experience was. It wasn’t bad in the sense that it was bizarre or abrasive, and it certainly wasn’t so offbeat that it was funny. It was just bland. There was no risk at all. I would much rather have watched a poorly-staged, low-budget camp-fest than something like this, which was technically well-made and technically well-acted. It was made with all the current technology, and you can definitely see the money on screen, but there is no flair, no passion at all. It feels like it was made for a paycheck, which is sad because it was director Adrian Lyne’s (“Fatal Attraction”) return to directing features after a two-decade hiatus. Honestly, he should’ve just made the whole movie about snails.
Daily Arts Writer Alvin Anand can be reached at email@example.com.