Comparing British and American love stories, though I don’t recall the last Hollywood romance movie without crude, rude language , is almost like comparing day and night. British romantic films are leisurely, getting into who the characters are, less concerned with action, melodrama and more with mood.
“The Deep Blue Sea”, based on a play written by Terence Rattigan and produced on stage in 1952 was eventually made into a movie starring Vivian Leigh. It has now been remade directed by Terence Davies who adapted the play making changes and inventing different scenes but keeping the basic story of a woman being caught between the devil and the deep blue sea in a world after WW2.
Hester (Rachel Weisz) is married to a man, Sir William Collyer (Simon Russell Beale), 10 years older than she is who loves her more than she loves him while she is more in love with Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston) then he is in love with her, who is 10 years younger than she is. The movie opens with her attempting suicide and goes back and forth in time showing what has brought her to this point and what happens after.
Sir William refuses to give Hester a divorce so she and Freddie start living as Mr. & Mrs. Page in a rundown apartment building in a part of London that still hasn’t recovered from the blitz just as Freddie believes he hit his peak in the RAF during the war. Hester is willing, and does, sacrifice everything for Freddie, including her dignity, while he plays golf and drinks at the pubs with his friends. Each of them in the triangle fails the other, each wanting the same thing, love, but not getting it from the one they want.
I don’t know if then, or now, every customer in a pub sings but then, just as the heroine does, everyone smokes. The city is still eroding from the effects of the war and everything around it is drab from the buildings to the dress.
Rachel Weisz is perfect as Hester showing a strength and vulnerability that would allow for loving too much and at the same time attempting suicide. Simon Russell Beale brings the gentleman’s acceptance of his wife no longer loving him while Tom Hiddleston gives us the man who loves, but not enough, to give up his single ways. BarbaraJefford as Sir William’s mother and Ann Mitchell as the landlady where Hester and Freddie live both add strong characters representing the upper class and lower middle class women of the time.
Terence Davies’ cuts out the underlying homosexual themes from the play to add writing and directorial things of his own but he allows Weisz in love or in despair as much of the screen and time that she needs to good effect.
“Concerto for Violin and Orchestra”, composed by Samuel Barber, is at times perfect back ground music while at other times very intrusive. Would everyone in a bar know the words to “You Belong To Me” as recorded by Jo Stafford? Okay sometimes British films, like Hollywood films, bend the rules