Friday, January 11, 2013
The Deep Blue Sea and Rachel Weisz Q&A
The film begins by a slow pan over an English house to the window where the heroine Hester Collyer (Rachel Weisz) is standing, with sweeping orchestral music, and a grainy, soft cinematography that makes the film look like much more of a period piece than I've seen before. The film has a blue quality to it, mimicking the sad mood of Hester, as, after romantic flashbacks with her RAF pilot lover Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston), she attempts suicide, trying to end what has been a complicated and upset life for her under a British repressed society.
The film takes its inspiration from 1940s dramas like The Heiress, Brief Encounter, and Now, Voyager, all centering on strong-willed, independent-minded women who are going through nearly insurmountable drama. The film also reminded me of Todd Haynes' film Far From Heaven, in which he paid homage to Douglas Sirk films of the 1950s with his color scheme, cinematography choices, and centering on an unhappy housewife who is repressing her full-bodied sexuality.
I do not want to analyze the film too much, because I know that it is well-worth seeing, peeling layers like an onion, with new revelations and tragic consequences of Hester's actions. One of the most incredible scenes in the film is a flashback that Hester has to the Blitz in London circa 1940, where Londoners are huddled together in a subway station as bombs come down on the city. They are joined together through wartime, and summoning up enough courage to sing the Irish anthem "Molly Malone" in unison. The camera pans from the train tunnel, where the singer belts out this song, to along the platform, with dozens of people seeking shelter from the hellfire above, and it is a tracking shot that I was holding my breath during, it was powerful to behold.
She spoke about how Terrence loves symmetry, and in the scene where her husband discovers her infidelity, he directed her not to overact or have a big emotional scene, but to "just sit with your back to the camera, and just slightly turn your neck." It is incredibly precise, and the minute detail just draws out the uncomfortable silence of the moment.
Rachel described Hester as "fire being constrained," and that she tries to hold on to a love that she knows is impossible. In my opinion, Hester doesn't seem to know what she wants, and even when she has her romantic young lover after her marriage to her older husband is ruined, she still isn't happy, as if expecting more. She is a product of the times, raised to be obedient with few options in life, and explodes because she doesn't have a healthy outlet for her passions and desires.
The film didn't have a rehearsal, it was filmed in 25 days, with a passionate atmosphere about working with Terrence, that everybody wanted to be there. She spoke about how it is "more interesting to play someone passionate," and that Terrence's direction would lead her to "emotionally undress everyday." The setting of the film, and the stillness of the moments really allowed the film to capture the period of time, free of modern-day speeds or anachronistic sayings.
I didn't go into this film with any expectations, but was blown away by how stunning and sad it was. It was an excellent film that truly captured the period and society that it depicted, and I am happy that I got to see one of my favorite actresses in person. Hopefully I will get to attend more screenings and Q&As at Moving Image to see more artists who I admire.