You can "Deep End" on her
Tilda Swinton turns in a commanding performance in "The Deep End," about a mother who loses her son to a bad crowd, and then makes everything worse when she finds her son's friend dead.
By DAVID N. BUTTERWORTH
With three pre- to mid-teen children and an aging father-in-law to care
for cooking and cleaning and laundry, dropoffs at Little League practice
and pickups from ballet practice Margaret Hall's life is rife with
complications. And with her naval-officer husband stationed somewhere in
the North Atlantic, virtually impossible to reach by telephone, Margaret
leads the crazed life of a single parent.
But Margaret's hectic world is
about to get a lot more complicated. Her teenage son Beau, a talented
trumpet player with strong prospects of being accepted into Wesleyan
University's music program, has fallen in with the wrong crowd. His mother
drives from their idyllic, lakeside community of Tahoe City, California to
the sprawling urban metropolis of Reno, Nevada, with its imposing concrete
superstructures and seedy neon-lit nightclubs, to confront the 30-something
man who has befriended Beau.
|THE DEEP END|
|Written and directed by: Scott McGehee, David Siegel.|
Adapted from a story by: Elisabeth Sanxay Holding.
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Goran Visnjic, Jonathan Tucker, Peter Donat,
Josh Lucas, Raymond J. Barry, Tamara Hope, Jordon Dorrance, Margo Krindel.
Related links: All of David N. Butterworth's reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
"Stay away from my son" Margaret warns Darby
Reese. Her words, however, appear to fall on deaf ears as Reese turns up
drunk at the family homestead later that evening, urging Beau to join him
in the boathouse. There are words and advances and some pushing and
shoving and Beau runs back into the house, past his startled mother, as
the crack of a wooden railing giving way breaks the cold blue silence and
an intoxicated Reese tumbles out of sight.
The next day, on her morning
walk, Margaret discovers Reese's lifeless body lying crumpled on the
shoreline, a boat anchor impaled in his chest. With her maternal instincts
working overtime, Margaret quickly ferries the body out into the lake,
weighs it down, and dumps it overboard. But Margaret's life is about to
get a lot more complicated. Soon after the body is discovered, snagged on
a local fisherman's line, Margaret is paid a visit by an attractive-seeming
blackmailer in a red Nova. Alek Spera threatens to hand over compromising
videotape of Beau to the police unless Margaret comes up with $50,000 by 4
o'clock the next day.
But Margaret's life is about to get a lot more
complicated, for Alek turns out to be something she never expected.
Based on Elisabeth Sanxay Holding's novel "The Blank Wall," "The Deep End"
is a well-crafted thriller written and directed by Scott McGehee and David
Siegel ("Suture"). It makes the most of a talented but not particularly
well-known cast Goran Visnjic plays Alek with a suave likeability,
Jonathan Tucker shines as the conflicted Beau, Peter Donat is amusing as
grandfather Hall, and Josh Lucas has an equally small but effective role as
the hapless Darby Reese. The film is also lovingly photographed by Giles
Nuttgens and features an evocative score, courtesy Peter Nashel.
But it owes everything to British actress Tilda Swinton. Swinton, whose
pale-faced ethereal beauty has graced "Orlando" and many of Derek Jarman's films
("Caravaggio," "Edward II," "The Last of England"), plays Margaret Hall in
"The Deep End" and, like Charlotte Rampling in this year's "Under the
Sand," turns in a commanding and accomplished performance. Margaret is a
devoted mother who is willing to risk everything to protect the ones she
loves, and Swinton captures every frustration, every fear, every subtle
examination and every fervent realization and every nervous oscillation of
her being. The role calls for an extremely wide range of emotions, not the
least of which is simply playing a mother beset with a multitude of
Many can relate to that, of course; it's the
murder coverup and the blackmail and the fear of losing one's son that
Swinton so gracefully, so graciously, makes resonate with the truest of
colors. The end is deep all right, and there isn't a single shallow moment
in Tilda Swinton's canon.
|JULY 20, 2001|
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