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‘Deep Water’ Feels Like a ’90s Psychological Thriller—for Better and Worse

3/5 snails

Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck at a piano in Deep Water

The movie Deep Water is what gave us the whirlwind romance between Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas that kept us going during the midst of lockdown with their Dunkin Donuts runs and their cardboard cut-outs. But what it didn’t give us was the Gone Girl cinematic universe we were all hoping it would. Directed by Adrian Lyne, who is known for films like Fatal Attraction, with a screenplay penned by Euphoria creator Sam Levinson and Zach Helm, the film is based on the Patricia Highsmith novel of the same name.

An exploration of an “open” relationship, in a way, the movie is clearly stuck between being close to its source material and trying to keep audiences on the edges of their seats when we clearly see what is happening before us.

The synopsis for the movie is as follows: “A well-to-do husband who allows his wife to have affairs in order to avoid a divorce becomes a prime suspect in the disappearance of her lovers”—which is good to know given the fact that movie does absolutely nothing to explain that they’re trying to avoid divorce. The movie is so worried about exploring the “mystery” that they do little to explain why Vic (Affleck) and Melinda (de Armas) don’t just explore an open relationship in a healthy way.

**Spoilers for Deep Water lie ahead.**

So, this movie is trying to be “sneaky” about what Vic did to Melinda’s ex-boyfriends, but it is very clear he’s murdered the ones he doesn’t like from the jump, and this is just a movie of him killing men, who are all the same type, and then trying to clean up that mess.

Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not. It’s the perfect kind of trashy mess of a movie that I love watching, but it also doesn’t have that much of a mystery to it. It’s obvious from the start. Vic and Melinda also have groups of friends who all love to have parties and hang out together in a way that most modern couples do not, so the movie puts everyone in party situations that feel fake and unnecessary because it’s just not how groups of friends function in 2022.

But what’s even more outlandish about this movie is that the surveillance nation we live in now didn’t catch Vic when he started murdering people? Especially when a “hot” piano player (played by Euphoria‘s Jacob Elordi) is murdered in a pool and everyone just accepts that he “drowned”?

Just get a divorce

While the movie doesn’t do a great job (meaning there’s little to no mention of this “divorce” aspect) exploring their marriage troubles outside of Melinda having boyfriends, it does all just point to them needing to not be together. Neither is perfect, and while Melinda loves to torment Vic with her boyfriends and bringing them around, she’s definitely innocent compared to Vic and his actual murder.

Deep Water has the sensuality that should exist in a movie of this nature, and it has all the makings of the next great psychological thriller, but it feels very much like the ’90s come back to life, and while I love it, it is definitely not going to be for everyone.

If the goal was to make the modern versions of What Lies Beneath or Fatal Attraction or even the 2002 film Unfaithful, then Deep Water is incredibly successful in that. It’s why I loved it, and I think those who grew up with or were obsessed with those kinds of romance-turned-wrong movies will enjoy Lyne’s latest, but it is incredibly predictable—not necessarily in a way that ruins the movie, but it doesn’t help it, either.

(image: 20th Century Pictures)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.