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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon April 25, 2002
A movie I loved so much that I actually stayed on my treadmill till it was over, extending my usual hour-long workout into 2 hours (and I'm paying the price today, ouch!)
From the opening scene to the last credit, you won't be able to tear your eyes from the screen. Tilda Swinton, the star and focus of this film, is perfect in the role of a woman trying to protect her family from tragedy while maintaining her daily routine.
A brief summary: Her adolescent son has been piecked up by a manipulative man and then the man tries to blackmail the boy's mother for money. Afterwards, he dies in cirucmstances that make the boy a possible suspect - although he is, in fact, innocent (I'm not giving anything away here; all of this is revealed early on in the movie).
Swinton is calmly focused (most of the time), single-mindedly determined in her quest to hold everything together in the face of nearly insurmountable odds. She is equally determined to make sure her family - son, 2 daughter, elderly father-in-law - aren't aware of what is going on, of the tragedy that took place within minutes of their front doorstep. Meanwhile, her life is changing but not in ways she could have foreseen. In spite of her best efforts, she can't control everything.
Watching Swinton juggle all her everyday duties (cooking, cleaning, keeping the kids organized and on time for school and after school activities) while dealing with the burden of hiding a body, covering up the evidence and keeping everyone in the dark, I couldn't help marveling at her apparent selflessness in the face of so much and at her incredible ability to fool those around her.
This movie is one of the best of the year. Don't be so swept up by the story,however, that you miss the visual details that are breath-takingly poetic in beauty and intensity. The lingering shots of Swinton's face, the color of the water, the way a drop falling from the kitchen faucet (framing a face in the drop) can punctuate the mood of the moment.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon August 26, 2001
I saw the movie "The Deep End" yesterday and it was just stunning- probably one of the most beautiful, perfect films I have seen. It was intense, tragic, and provocative. The whole film takes place around water, and the colors of the film seems bathed in blue. I just can't describe how much I loved everything about it- the characters, the scenery, the pacing...
Tilda Swinton, who played the main character in this movie, was breathtaking. I haven't been as inspired by a performance since I saw Cate Blanchett in "Elizabeth", and those of you who have known me for a while understand just how blown away I was by Swinton. Why isn't she in a million films?!
I'm reading a lot of personal reviews on the internet and it seems like most people don't agree with my glowing review of "The Deep End", which is a shame. Even thought the critics tended to really like it, more films like it won't be made unless the audience responds well. I guess it requires some patience to watch, although to me the film just flew by. You are required to believe in the character's desperation and love for her child, which is what drives the movie. I can't believe people this film isn't resonating more with people who have children. I don't, but I could actually feel the fierce nature of a mother's - and the fact she would do *anything* to protect her child from harm.
If you have a chance, go see it. Even with all that is going on in my life, I was enveloped in this movie. I just lost track of everything else and just got absorbed in it- the colors, the sounds, the emotions, the intensity.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2001
If someone had asked me who I thought should play the mother-in-peril role of Margaret Hall in "The Deep End" I would not have listed Tilda Swinton who heretofore has made a career of playing far-out characters as in "Orlando" in which she played both a man and a woman whose lives evolve over the course of several hundred years. Be thankful I wasn't asked, for Tilda Swinton gives the performance of her lifetime in this film directed by the duo of David Seigel and Scott McGehee. Set in the Lake Tahoe/Reno area, the plot of "Deep End" is straight out of film noir and as such usually doesn't allow for much in the way of delving into a characters personality or psychology. All the chracters in a film noir are archetypes: cool blond Grace Kelly in "Dial M for Murder" or Robert Mitchum as the tough, hard-drinking detective in "D.O.A." Seigel/McGehee use the film noir tradition as a jumping off point and layer on the shadings and angles that can make a movie character "pop" as personified in the Alek Spera role played with an uncanny combination of danger, empathy and sympathy by Goran Visnjic (T.V.'s "ER"). Visnjic is a revelation is this role. Notice how with just a slight eye or face movement he can transmit a multitude of emotions. Great film actors use their faces to tell their stories. Spera approaches Hall the first time to blackmail her for $50,000 over a sex tape that his boss, Carlie Nagel has in his possession. Smudging the bad guy/blackmailer image to the hilt, Spera quickly becomes attached to Hall and her family with surprising results that I will not reveal here. What does transpire is that Visnjic and Swinton are such multi-faceted and complex characters involved in a many layered situation that you can't help but be fascinated by the whole enterprise. If I had to make one small gripe it would be about the character of Darby Reese, a bar owner played by Josh Lucas. This guy is strictly out of the Simon Legree mold of villian what with his pencil mustache and toothy sneer. It's as if he belongs in another movie altogether. But this is a minor mis-step in what is a terrific movie. Bravo to all involved.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2002
This film is beautifully photographed and very well acted by its lead, but -- spoiler alert, I'm going to talk about the plot now -- WHY did this seemingly intelligent woman choose to dump the body so close to shore rather than truly in "the deep end" of the lake where it might never be found? (I mean, Tilda Swinton could have at least found a handy kelp bed or something that might have disguised the submerged body a little better.)
The character of the handsome extortionist was rather thinly drawn, as well, but I don't agree with the reviewers who think the teenage son should have been more open about the whole affair with his mother to start with. Wake Up Call: talking about sexual matters with your parents at that age is very awkward, probably especially so when you're gay and they're straight. (Maybe this would have played better if the son had appeared to truly be 17 or so. The actor looked to be closer to me, anyway.)
I was glad to see a carefully crafted film, but the plot could have been more thoroughly worked out.
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29 of 37 people found the following review helpful
There is always room for legitimate difference of opinion, but many of the negative reviews of this film border on science fiction. Many seem to be based either on fallacies or misunderstandings. Let me mention this first.
Number one, some have claimed that this is a thriller without thrills. Why would anyone think this is a thriller and that its purpose is to evoke thrills? It is a suspense film, and while there are few thrills (nor were there meant to be), there is considerable suspense. Negative reviews along this line try to define the film as being this or that, when in fact it is something, and then criticizing it because it doesn't conform to the fallacious definition. So, no, this is not a thriller.
Two, the acting is superb, not bad. Several reviews mention bad acting, but as a former actor and hard core movie buff, I can spot bad acting when it occurs, and it is not apparent in this film. The film turns completely on Tilda Swinton's performance, and she is just stunning. And for the few critics who criticize her because she is so serious and glum, this is blaming her for the fault, if indeed it is a fault, of playing the character as it is written. Happy things do not happen to her in this movie, and to express anything other than abject desperation would be inappropriate. When the movie came out, many felt that she would not merely be nominated for the Oscar, but would win it. I agree that her performance should have garnered her an Oscar nomination. She wasn't nominated, but it should be noted that she not only was nominated by a number of other awards organizations for her performance but also won several Best Actress awards.
Third, although this was not really the basis for criticism, several reviewers referred to it as a film noir. It is not. Not all suspense films are film noir, and this one lacked virtually every element that is constitutive of film noir. The only element that it shares with film noir is the sense of moral ambiguity, but even that is lost when one realizes that the mother's actions are motivated almost entirely by a desire to care for her child.
Fourth, there is criticism of the way in which a gay character falls in love with Tilda Swinton's character. First (and I verified this by rewatching the film), nowhere is it intimated that Alek is gay. That is an presumption that some are reading into the film. Nor is it exactly clear that he "falls in love" with her. Nagle, Alek's business associate, when perplexed by his attempts to help her, asks him if he was having sex with her (he was not), we know that he is being utterly wrongheaded. I would suggest that reviewers who see him as unambiguously falling in love with her as also wrongheaded. Instead, I believe that Alek is placed in a position where he ceases to see her as a "business opportunity," because of his need to help her revive her father-in-law when he suffers a heart attack, and begins to see her as a human being. After she drives off in an ambulance, Alek looks around the house and sees photos that reveal an entirely different world, a kind of world that is completely closed off for him. His actions, I believe, are not based on a love for her in a romantic sense, but a deep and profound affection for the quality of life that she has, and that he does not have. There is, in the end, some emotional tension, but even if the movie had ended differently, I do not think that Alek would have attempted any kind of romantic entanglement.
Finally, whatever else one can say about this film, labeling it "stupid" or "dumb" is about as far off the mark as it is possible. Instead, this movie is brimming with intelligence, and one of the marks of this is the fact that the more you think about it, there more thought it provokes. It isn't like a truly dumb film that the more you think about it, you realize that it doesn't hold water, and conceptually disintegrates, putting an end to all thought.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2004
This fine film has many stories - one might be the story of individualism versus society where the former is represented by two blackmailing men out to make a dollar and the latter represented by a woman and her three children and absent Navy husband maintaining a family. But the strongest and most interesting one to me centres on the journey the handsome character played by Goran Visjnic makes from criminal to something of a rdeeming figure when he cannot effectively carry through the task assigned to him by his partner in the blackmailing strategy they have devised. With an excellent music score, strong design characteristics, fine acting by all concerned, this is a very fine film indeed worthy reviewing from time to time.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2002
Let's concede the main criticism of The Deep End right up front -- some plot elements are wildly arbitrary and improbable. The crotchety old father-in-law exists only to trigger a pivotal moment in the movie. And, yes, it is totally illogical for Tilda Swinton to dump the body where it will be found, but hey, without that decision, there's no movie!
Suspend your disbelief, however, and what you have here is a wonderfully acted and thoroughly engrossing film. Two scenes between Mom (Tilda Swinton) and the blackmailer (Goran Visnjic)--the first when he comes upon the emergency involving Mr. Crotchety and the second at the house's shoreline after she has missed a meeting with him -- turn both their relationship and the movie upside down. In the hands of lesser actors, it wouldn't work; but with Swinton and, equally (because he must make the greater character change from coldly calculating to human), Visnjic, a viewer believes the transformation.
The beneficiary of Mom's cleanup, the gay son, remains clueless from start to finish. Having early on lied to his mother, "he's just a friend," when talking about his older lover, he cannot believe that is the truth when she says the same thing about the blackmailer. Another fine moment comes when he tells the lover that Mom doesn't know about their relationship and the older man snorts, "She knows...she's a mom, not a moron."
Spectacular views of Lake Tahoe abound and, fitting to the title, water is a constant motif. A bonus of the DVD is Anatomy of a Scene, in which the filmakers describe the complexities and numerous takes of the shoreline scene, making subsequent viewings all the more rewarding.
Know what you are getting into -- The Deep End is a melodrama from start to finish. It is not filled with big ideas or entirely believeable. It is an entertainment, a superbly constructed, filmed, and acted one. Accepted on those terms, it merits a full five stars.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon November 22, 2004
The family is more or less all-American, the house is on the shores of Lake Tahoe, the father is a senior naval officer away on duty but back soon, the mother is coping silently, maybe a little unhappily. She has three kids. The eldest is 17 years old, a teenager who is trying to come to grips with his homosexuality. He's been running with an older, sleezy opportunist. The mother discovers this and tries to break things up. This leads to a fight, a death which could be murder, the discovery that her son is gay, blackmail and a resolution that works.

The movie, in my opinion, is first rate. It's well-acted, the son's sexuality isn't dwelled upon and is treated matter-of-factly, and the story is full of nuances. Tilda Swinton plays the mother, and the story is about her absolute determination to protect her children, especially her son. She takes steps she thinks are best, or at least best of the choices she has, and they have consequences that are seldom tidy or expected. The relationship that developes between her and one of the blackmailers is tentative and even believeable. This is a movie, I think, that benefits from being watched more than once.

Swinton does a magnificent job. She's one of these actresses who doesn't get anywhere near the recognition she deserves.

The DVD transfer is excellent.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2002
"The Deep End" is a great film noir thriller that's made even better by Tilda Swinton's amazing performance as a mother who does whatever is necessary to protect her son, despite the fact that he made have done a truly terrible thing. Co-directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel understand the power of melodrama and use it to full effect here. This is excellent adult entertainment.
Margaret [Swinton] discovers that her 17-year old son is having an affair with a much older man and tries to put a stop to it. She doesn't succeed. When she finds the man dead near the boathouse of the family's Lake Tahoe home, she assumes the worst and takes measures to assure that her son's promising future is not ruined. Everything she does, though, only causes her to go deeper and deeper into a world of homicide and blackmail. The audience is draw into the story because it knows things Margaret and other characters don't.
Of special note are the coldly beautiful cinematography by Giles Nuttgens and the haunting musical score by Peter Nashel. The script is a fine one. Sure, there are too many coincidences and improbable happenings, but these things occur in virtually all movie thrillers. Often, it's how they are handled that counts, and McGehee and Siegel handle them with finesse.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2003
The Excellent Tilda Swinton dominates this twisted tale of 'a very bad, bad day' - a film noir about a mother's love and what she will do to protect her offspring - this time its teen-age sonny boy who is making an unatuhorized video-debut ......
Great camera work [the house and the time-lapsed shots] - and just a perfect color palate - blues, reds and then those Tahoe Autumn moments.
Goren Visnjic - not just a pretty face with a bar-code [on the neck...] A talent worth watching and nurturing - ditto for Jonathan Tucker as the somewhat 'clueless' sonny boy [but isn't that the case when you're 17?]
TILDA SWINTON rules the movie - it's not what she says - it is what she does not say ....... the moment when confronted with the tape - the 'murder' - the cover-up - the complications ......
Great DVD print and presentation especially the sound design.
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