The Deep End (2001) starring Tilda Swinton, Goran Visnjic, Jonathan Tucker, Peter Donat, Josh Lucas, Raymond J. Barry directed by Scott McGehee, David Siegel Movie Review

The Deep End (2001)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Tilda Swinton in The Deep End (2001)

More Shallow than Deep

You wake up to find the man that you believe your son has been having a homosexual relationship with is dead on the beach in front of your home, what do you do? There are a lot of things which may go through your mind, call the police, walk away but why with out knowing the facts take it upon yourself to dump the body in a lake and in a shallow part at that. This in many ways what lets "The Deep End" down because it genuinely is a clever movie which delivers a twist on the usual but unfortunately it uses a lot of usual to get there and that usual is full of the usual contrivances which spoil thrillers. The contrivances are not the only problem and whilst Tilda Swinton is a good actress her characterisation of a busy mum is too detached and cold to be believable.

Having driven to Reno to confront club owner Darby Reese (Josh Lucas) over his friendship with her son Beau (Jonathan Tucker), Margaret (Tilda Swinton - The Beach) heads home and hopes that is it as she blames him for Beau crashing his car having been drinking. But that night she hears a noise and when she takes a stroll on the beach in the morning she finds Darby's dead body. Without knowing what happened she sets about disposing off his body in the lake and moving his car. But just when she believes it is over something else happens when Al Spera (Goran Visnjic - Practical Magic) shows up and blackmails her.

Goran Visnjic in The Deep End (2001)

If it wasn't for the first 30 minutes "The Deep End" would be a good thriller because during the second half it delivers an unexpected chain of events which you don't usually see in movies. But during those first 30 minutes we have irrational behaviour, in fairness it is irrational behaviour which is needed to get the story to a certain point. What I mean is Margaret's reaction to discovering Darby dead on the beach as she does a lot of daft things starting with deciding dispose of the body in a shallow part of the lake. It does allow for a chain of events as things spiral out of control but every one of those events has something simply daft going on which makes it unbelievable.

Now in fairness the whole point of this opening from Margaret confronting Darby at the club to disposing of his body is all about how far you would go to protect your family. But it doesn't ring true and that is partly down to Tilda Swinton playing Margaret as overly detached and cold. Yes she may come across as a hectic mother trying to keep the home running but as a caring mother willing to do anything she fails to convince.

But then this builds up to an entertaining second half where she finds herself being confronted by this man Al who sets about blackmailing her. What follows is for the most good with an entertaining and different series of events which help lift the movie from being just a typical thriller. And it is during this second half that we get the good performance from Goran Visnjic as Al Spera, a believable performance of a man not cut out to be a blackmailer.

What this all boils down to is that "The Deep End" has its problems from a contrived set up to the miscasting of Tilda Swinton but it is worth watching because of the more original second half.