The Movie Guru: “Deep Water” dull, but great acting in “The Outfit”
‘Deep Water’ gets one and a half stars, ‘The Outfit’ gets three stars
The Movie Guru
Deep Water (Hulu)
It takes a lot of work to make murder boring.
Somehow, though, “Deep Water” manages it. Premiering on Hulu this weekend, the movie drains most of the life out of the story of a deeply dysfunctional marriage turned homicidal. The cast is good, and the original story has plenty of tension, but director Adrian Lyne doesn’t care much about that. He’s too focused on a marriage that seems largely incomprehensible to those watching, and though he clearly cares a great deal he never finds a reason to make us do the same.
The movie focuses on Ben Affleck as a suburban man with a wife (Ana de Armas) who cheats on him constantly. He says it’s fine even though his neighbors keep pointing it out, then turns around and tells his wife’s new boyfriend that he killed the last one. When the bodies start piling up, his wife starts to think that he really is a killer.
Unfortunately, the movie tends to treat the murders almost like an afterthought, relegating them to flashbacks or filming them like they were household chores. Lyne is far more interested in watching Affleck stare off into the distance, or at de Armas, while the movie tries to tell us that something important is happening. Occasionally, we’ll get conversations.
Though both performers try to imbue these moments with depth and tension, there’s only so much they can do when they have so little to work with. The fact that the script jettisons an entire branch of the original story’s plot doesn’t help at all, nor does the movie’s almost complete lack of emotional context. The entire movie depends on the deeper nuances of their marriage, but for most of the movie it’s impossible to tell what they actually are.
Support Local Journalism
The result is confusion, boredom, and the futile wish that more people would die. At least that way, something interesting might finally happen.
The Outfit (in theaters)
Sometimes, the best thing about a movie is watching a particular actor strut their stuff.
Though the movie has other charms, the real reason to watch “The Outfit” is watching Mark Rylance do what he does best. He’s quietly electric every moment he’s onscreen, a subtle engine still powerful enough to drive the story. The twisty, theatrical thriller can drag at times, but never when Rylance is the focus.
In the movie, which opens in theaters this weekend, he plays a tailor with a mysterious past who makes fancy suits for the mob. When a mobster’s son makes him stitch up a gunshot wound, he overhears a secret he’s not supposed to know and gets caught up in a web of intrigue. Who’s lying to who, and what will it take to survive the night?
The movie is incredibly theatrical, with closeups being the main difference between this and watching a stage play. That’s a good thing when it comes to Rylance, who fills his performance with nuances that clue you in to what’s happening even when the script doesn’t. Of course, you might not want to trust his clues, since he layers his performance to the point that you’re never sure what’s true and what’s a carefully tailored lie.
The movie shared some of the same tailoring, with twists that unspool like a clockwork machine. There are times when it ticks by much too slowly, leaning too hard into its theatrical nature through a seemingly endless string of conversations. Still, there’s a nice complexity to it that keeps your attention.
At the heart of it all is Rylance. Even if you don’t like anything else about the movie, it’s hard not to love watching a master at work.
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at email@example.com.