Just released on Hulu, Deep Water is the funniest film of the year so far.
Ben Affleck stars as Vic Van Allen. (Even his name is funny!) Vic made a fortune by inventing a computer chip that is used to help drones track people down and blow them up. Now, Vic is retired, living in a nice and small town, and publishing a photography/poetry magazine. He enjoys going to parties with his friends, joking about committing murder, and riding the heck out of his bike. Seriously, the shots of Affleck riding that bike are comparable to Will Ferrell playing the flute in Anchorman.
Ana de Armas plays Vic’s wife, Melinda. Everyone, including Vic, knows that Melinda cheats on Vic with almost every man that she meets. Vic accepts Melina’s infidelities on the condition that she not leave him and their daughter, Trixie (Grace Jenkins). Of course, Vic does still get upset. When Melinda’s former lover vanishes, Vic jokes to Melinda’s current lover that he killed the previous lover. Everyone in town gets a good laugh out of that one. Everyone, that is, but for Melinda and local busybody Don Wilson (Tracy Letts).
Both Melinda and Don think that Vic is capable of murder. As far as Don is concerned, Vic is responsible for the death of every single person who has ever been blown by a drone. Meanwhile, Melinda knows that there’s something strange about the way that Vic spends all of his time taking care of the hundreds of snails that he keeps in the basement. Vic, of course, insists that he was just making a joke when he said that he was a murderer. But then Vic actually does murder someone and things get complicated….
From what I understand, Deep Water is supposed to be a serious thriller but I absolutely refuse to believe that it’s not actually meant to be a parody of the genre. It’s director Adrian Lyne’s first film in 20 years. Lyne is best know for directing movies like 9 1/2 Weeks, Fatal Attraction. Indecent Proposal, and Unfaithful and so many of the scenes in Deep Water feel as if they’ve been specifically designed as a way to poke fun at Lyne’s previous films that one can’t help but suspect that at least a few of the film’s laughs are meant to be intentional. This is a film that features Ben Affleck, on a bicycle, chasing a car while the driver rants about how autocorrect is always ruining his text messages. I absolutely refuse to accept that this was truly meant to be taken seriously.
That said, Affleck wanders through the film with a glum expression on his face, one that suggests that he wasn’t let in on the joke ahead of time. Ana de Armas is ultimately defeated by a script that refuses to allow her character to behave with any consistency but she’s still smart enough to play Melinda as being a character who is at least partially aware that she’s in a movie. As for Tracy Letts, I have never seen any reputable actor overact quite as much as Tracy Letts does towards the end of Deep Water. It’s a sight to behold.
Adrian Lyne makes sure that the film looks good but he never manages to strike a consistent tone and the film’s plot is full of holes. Affleck spends a lot of time gazing at snails while Ana de Armas throws a fit when her daughter keeps insisting that Alexa play Old MacDonald. Tracy Letts, at one point, sees Affleck riding his bicycle and starts cursing like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. Deep Water doesn’t really work as a thriller but, as a comedy, it’s a lot of fun.