Rachel Weisz shines in film of Rattigan's Deep Blue Sea

Nov 25, 2011

Terence Davies's film version of this classic tale of destructive adultery may be a little too faithful


This is Terence Davies's screen adaptation of a 1952 Terence Rattigan play. It stars Rachel Weisz as Hester, the wife of a judge (Simon Russell Beale), whose obsessive love affair with an air force pilot (Tom Hiddleston) destroys her happiness.  

Ratttigan wrote the play after a former gay lover committed suicide, and many have speculated that his themes of repression and frustration in middle class society are a veiled exploration of homosexuality.    

Terence Davies, a renowned chronicler of post-war Britain, made the lyrical documentary of Liverpool life Of Time and the City. Here, he lovingly recreates an 1950s England still shell-shocked by the Second World War.  


The good news is that Davies's adaptation  "is nothing if not faithful", says Catherine Shoard in The Guardian. "It's a veritable Greyfriars Bobby: patiently wagging its tail" after his master. This will come as a relief for those who can't bear to see a staple of the English stage "sexed-up for the flicks".

Every speech and pause from these experienced theatre actors is measured, every gesture neat, every line delivered to the back row of the stalls, says Robin Collin in The Daily Telegraph. "Weisz is terrific, and Davies's use of low light, soft focus and faded, yellowing sets makes her look positively phosphorescent."

This is a mesmeric, haunting and often very beautiful study of isolation, says Damon Wise in Empire Magazine. "In an age of hubbub, its patient elegance is a rare thing we should nurture".


There's something about this film that feels studied and precious, says Dave Calhoun in Time Out. This sad story is deeply evocative as a period piece, "but it fails to take a grip on the heart in the same way that the very best of Davies's films do".

If you caught this on the West End you'd be delighted, says Collin in the Telegraph, but on screen it feels "fusty and antique". The film is "a record of a strong performance rather than a strong film in its own right".

Sign up for our daily newsletter