I don’t know what to think of Ben Affleck. He is brilliant at certain times in his career. Other times, I prefer to run away from everything that bears your name.
Affleck in Batman in the hands of Zack Snyder? Course! Affleck showing he can act, like in “Gone Girl” and “The Way Back”? Whoops! Weirdly Awesome Affleck in ‘The Last Duel’? I completely agree!
How about, then, Ben Affleck claiming he didn’t do film? Him, his stage, studio and director partners, no doubt even the coffee maker. They all play Egyptian and pretend it’s not their style. How is it?
One unsuspecting Sunday, I went to try and find out. “Deep Waters”, which arrived at Diffusion Prime Video, didn’t have a millionaire marketing campaign. There wasn’t even a chance of being discovered by word of mouth.
This erotic thriller, a holdover from a long-forgotten era, is your typical eviction situation. Like that unwanted friend who extends the visit even after you’ve put on your pajamas, the film was simply pushed out the door unceremoniously.
Average reviews on infamous rotten tomatoes it was a disaster. I went to strike with friends, no one had risked it. “At least it can give a nice text”, I thought. Here we are.
Here we are, let’s say, strangely surprised! “Deep Water” is by no means a good movie. But in two hours, he made me forget the slips, the dishes in the sink, the laundry that had to be put away.
One could explain the “downhill crash”, in which one slows down to see the damage, but the disaster soon becomes a dot in the rear view mirror. But it’s not that. There’s something engaging about the messy plot of “Water Deep.”
The name on this X factor is Adrian Lyne.
Going back in time to the nostalgic 1980s (hello, “Top Gun”!), Lyne has built her career on two pillars. The first, a sticky and enveloping style, a mixture of light and smoke that made its movies the most humble are a feast for the eyes.
It was like that with “Flashdance”, his second feature film, released in 1983. The unreal plot, about a dancer who wants to be a ballerina while working in a steel mill (!), was enhanced by the visual created by Lynne. THE music Irene Cara theme helped status worship of the company.
Then came the “9 ½ Weeks of Love” phenomenon, which made Mickey Rourke a star, launched Kim Basinger’s career and ran in São Paulo for over a year.
The salad of light sex and moral and sexual abuse (in 1986, no one was canceled) was nonsense without substance, but it marked Lyne as a director of “bold” themes. He then squeezed the tag tightly.
Then he ran for the hug. 1987 brought another phenomenon in the form of “Fatal Attraction” which served to show Michael Douglas (and much of the male audience at the time) that cheating is always a bad idea. Oh, and turned a rabbit stew into a horror piece.
“Hallucinations from the Past”, released in 1990 (and my favorite in his filmography), puts time travel, the Vietnam War, identity crisis and metaphysics in the same bag. 1993’s “Indecent Proposal” was yet another “controversial” film in which Robert Redford pays $1 million for a night with Demi Moore.
By now, Adrian Lyne’s style was already looking tired. He even ventured to adapt Nabokov with “Lolita” (1997) and cast Richard Gere and Diane Lane as a couple in crisis in the thriller “Infidelity”. The manager then closed the shop. Which remained closed for two decades.
It’s easy to see why he called off the break. “Deep Waters”, adapted from the book by Patricia Highsmith, brings together all the elements that formed the basis of her cinema. We’ve got the emasculated man (Ben Affleck), the femme fatale-but-not-so-so (Ana de Armas), light sex, crime and a deliciously tacky vibe.
Affleck is Vic Van Allen, a millionaire retired engineer, who lives comfortably with his wife, Melinda (Ana de Armas), and their daughter. The relationship, a pattern in the small Louisiana town they call home, isn’t exactly perfection.
Living in separate rooms, he has an open relationship. Vic, a reserved guy, watches the outgoing and fun-loving Melinda form friendships that tend to grow closer. When these “friends” are found dead, it’s not hard to imagine who the suspicion falls on.
Adrian Lyne is clever not to make suspense about the author of the crimes, having much more fun exploring the strange relationship of his protagonist couple. Absolutely nothing makes sense in Zach Helm and Sam Levinson’s script. The plot unfolds like this, going through logic, to its conclusion completely outside the house.
It’s understandable that everyone involved in “Waterdeep” just let the movie die. First, its launch, in November 2020, was pushed back by the pandemic to August 2021. Then to January 2022. Shortly before the date, it disappeared from the agenda for good, reappearing as a direct product for Diffusionon Hulu in the United States and Prime Video in the rest of the world.
Want more complications? Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas began a romantic relationship while filming, but they broke up in early 2021. Affleck got back together with Jennifer Lopez. I have here for my pimples that the duo wouldn’t budge from a toothpick to promote the movie. That’s what it was. The end.
No one in Hollywood pays more attention to the erotic thriller as a genre. The “50 Shades of Grey” trilogy, one of the biggest cinematic aberrations of recent years, served to show how anachronistic and pathetic the plots have become.
Its structure is a time capsule that no longer fits in cinema, although there is room for reinvention in European and Asian markets. This is what Paul Verhoeven did in “Elle” and “Benedetta”. That’s what Park Chan-wook did in “The Handmaiden”
Adrian Lyne, at 81, is aware that times are different. It’s clear he directs “Water Deep” as an exercise in nostalgia. It’s silly, of course, but it’s never vulgar or boring. Ben Affleck, comfortable as the male loser, is the best thing about the film. For an unsuspecting Sunday, it’s worth it!