By: Kayla Caldwell
The IMDb summary for DEEP WATER says, "their loveless marriage is held together only by a precarious arrangement, whereby, in order to avoid divorce, Melinda (Ana de Armas) is allowed to take any number of lovers as long as she does not desert her family." I point this out because that context would have been great to have when I was watching this. There's no mention of this arrangement at any point during the almost two-hour film.
It's a really strange arrangement, because Vic (Ben Affleck) doesn't act like he's agreed to anything. He watches Melinda like a hawk, even as she seems to delight in making him squirm by hitting on and even hooking up with other men right in front of him. In fact, their behavior is so bizarre, that friends and coworkers keep bringing it up to Vic, saying it's getting out of hand. Melinda seems to hate her life. She looks at her husband with disdain, and often has frustrated outbursts at their adorable, young daughter, Trixie (Grace Jenkins). Trixie is quite the character herself, oscillating between a cute tyke singing happy songs and a precocious, The Omen-type who might kill you in your sleep. Clearly the kinds of sexual and violent games her parents are playing don't leave the most positive impact on a young child.
About an hour in, it's hard to tell for whom we're supposed to be rooting. Melinda is just a horrible, vindictive person, while Vic is either the most stoic SOB on the planet, or he's a literal serial killer. For two people who are so hot, and have dated in real life, there's a shocking lack of chemistry. The sex scenes read as cringe, because neither of them seem into it. They're the kind of couple who really make you believe in divorce.
There's also this unexpected obsession with snails, that, as far as I can tell, is only explained by Vic saying that they will climb up a 12-foot wall to get to their mate. Vic loves his snails like pets, and perhaps sees himself in them, as he seemingly would do anything for Melinda. I just need to stress again how much snail is in this movie. They have tense conversations standing in this tiny room full of mollusks, getting hit by misters, like in the produce section of the grocery store.
DEEP WATER doesn't seem to know quite what it is. Is it a romance? Erotic thriller? Murder mystery? All of the above? It feels like that movie Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell did for Lifetime, where you couldn't tell if they were trying to be hilarious, or if it was dramatic acting gone wrong. DEEP WATER feels more unintentionally funny than tongue-in-cheek clever.
At this point, one would probably assume that I do not recommend this film. However, it's quite the opposite. If you go into DEEP WATER with no expectations for a cohesive plot or to get any of your questions answered, it's a fun ride. It makes no sense, and the acting is all over the place, but it's sure to make for a night of entertaining viewing. Pair it with the movie Knock Knock if you want a double feature that will really melt your brain.
DEEP WATER is streaming now on Hulu.