Deep End, The  (2001)


Starring: Tilda Swinton, Jonathon Tucker, Goran Visnjic
David Siegel, Scott McGehee

Rating: R

Studio: Fox Searchlight

Review Posted: 12.28.02

Spoilers: Major


Reviewed by Christopher T. Bryan


The Movie


The Deep End is adapted from The Blank Wall, a novel by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding. As the producers, writers and directors, David Siegel and Scott McGehee wear three different hats on this production. They change not only the World War Two setting of the novel to contemporary times, but also the sex of the child from female to male. Now instead of a heterosexual relationship involving a daughter and a man, we are faced with a homosexual relationship. This change brings an interesting twist to the film but may not be necessary in a movie with so many subplots.


The Deep End is centered on a Lake Tahoe family and more specifically, Margaret Hall (Tilda Swinton). Margaret has just discovered that her son Beau is gay and confronts his lover Darby Reese (Josh Lucas). The same night as the confrontation Darby comes to Beauís (Jonathon Tucker) home. The two have a fight and black eyed Beau leaves Darby on the dock. The next morning Margaret discovers Darbyís body and immediately assumes that her son is his killer. In order to protect Beau she throws the body into a boat and takes it onto the lake for disposal. The body is discovered the same day that a stranger in black shows up demanding money with a videotape of Beau and Darby together.


The stranger is Alek Spera (Goran Visnjic) who for some reason takes pity on Margaret when he realizes that she canít come up with the sum of money requested. While being blackmailed and dealing with the fact that her son is gay and may be a murderer, Margaret, whose husband is unreachable at sea, and whose father-in-law has a massive heart attack, begins to fall for Alek.


Sound bewildering? It is. A problem arises when the characters have too many issues to deal with confusing the audience. Margaret has gone from a fairly simple family woman to a character dealing with homosexuality, murder, and feelings for a dashing stranger. Thatís a triple threat if Iíve ever heard of one. While dealing with these different themes the filmmakers leave a number of holes in their script. We not only donít fully understand who the people are that want money from the Halls, but also why, or how they expect this family to have the money readily available. Why is the husband unreachable while on a navy aircraft carrier? And how does Alek, a debt collector from Reno, become softened by this housewife?


Tilda Swinton is given a plateful of emotions to express and does it successfully. Goran Visnjic seems out of place as the bad guy, but is believable as the love interest. I was most impressed with Josh Lucas as Darby. Youíll recognize him now as Jake, Reese Witherspoonís love interest in Sweet Home Alabama.  His character comes across chillingly as Lucas delivers his lines coolly. He is the most evil character in the movie even with little screen time, because he is so slick.


The filmmakers made a scenically engaging movie with a haunting score. Lake Tahoe, full of vibrant colors and natural beauty, is a great backdrop for this film. David Siegel and Scott McGehee really wanted to get across a feeling that everything in the movie comes back to, or is somehow related to water. Most things of any significance in the film are blue, and any time there is a scene change it is done in some way using water. I would argue that this filmís greatest success is getting across this notion. Unfortunately I was left feeling lost at sea.


The Video


The film is full of beautiful colors that are delivered nicely in the widescreen format. The Score is eerie and offsets the beauty of Lake Tahoe nicely. Overall, this is a striking presentation of the movie.


The Audio


Available audio tracks: English 5.1 Surround, English Dolby Surround, and French Dolby Surround.


The Extras


Commentary by David Siegel and Scott McGehee: I like the commentary for the DVD. As the directors, writers, and producers, David Siegel and Scott McGehee are well suited to give in depth behind the scene remarks. They give many interesting insights into the film including the screenwriting itself, location selection, casting, and shooting.


The Anatomy of a Scene (Sundance Channel): This is nice to have included, but much of the information from the Commentary is repeated.


Featurette: The Featurette includes more observations from the cast members and staff of The Deep End. Unfortunately these are nothing more than repeats if you have watched the other special features of the DVD.


Theatrical Trailer: The trailer makes the movie look more exciting than it really is.


TV Spot Review: This is a television spot promoting the movie and includes some reviews it received.


Fox Flix: This includes trailers for other Fox films.




With features that are common to any DVD released today; Iím not sure why this is dubbed a "Special Edition DVD." The directors state in their commentary that there was a lot of extra footage that wasn't used. I feel that extra footage and deleted scenes are what make the DVD experience truly different from that of VHS. Unless you absolutely love this movie it isnít worth buying. Rent it instead.





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