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Margaret Hall (Tilda Swinton) spends much time without her navy husband, being mother to their teenage son, Beau (Jonathan Tucker), at their Lake Tahoe waterside home. Beau is often a cause for anxiety and when Beauís lover is found washed up in front of their house, Margaret the mother goes into action, fearing the worst and hiding the body. As if this werenít bad enough, the aftermath gets worse as a stranger, Alek (Goran Visnjic), tries to blackmail her for his criminal boss with intimate knowledge of the hidden body and her sonís secret life. Margaret becomes increasingly exposed as her otherwise ordinary life begins to tumble about her, forcing her into even more extraordinary tactics to survive.

Good thrillers Ė indeed, good films Ė have a real sense of place, and The Deep End creates such a tangible sense of the small town Lake Tahoe setting that it propels our involvement with the characters and the story. It is in this very specific setting that our basically ordinary, everyday characters act out the key elements of the story, but it also provides much of the psychological framework for it. And it succeeds brilliantly. (It also brings to mind another thriller which achieved similar success with its remote setting Ė A Simple Plan Ė and its ordinary people.) Tilda Swinton creates a multi-dimensional mother, her emotional and mental processes woven into the fabric of her face. We know people like her Ė and we respond to her dilemmas with understanding. Goran Visnjic handles the challenging role of the would be blackmailer with charisma and control, and Jonathan Tucker is excellent as the teenage son flirting with disaster. The fact that the drama is driven by such common household elements as those on show here make it accessible to us all, and even more disturbingly close to home. The performances are all terrific, the filmmakers use plenty of cinematic style and technique, and the score adds a mezmerisingly tense mood to the film. Above all, though, the economical, image-rich script deserves praise for its astute handling of the basic premise: a motherís love for her son and the price she pays for letting it motivate her. Itís a fresh angle on the genre. One lie leads to another Ė and then who knows where. To The Deep End, thatís where.
Andrew L. Urban

Chilling and overtly compelling, The Deep End is a beautifully crafted suspense thriller noir with a tour de force performance by Tilda Swinton. There's nothing trite in the screenplay that writers/producers/directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel have written; they have created a magnificent film, filled with all the rich complexity of human emotions. Based on Elizabeth Sanxay Holding's 1947 novel The Blank Wall, the themes of motherly commitment, loneliness and sacrifice is as relevant today as the day it was written. The script flows as smoothly as the tranquil, cerulean waters of Lake Tahoe while the picturesque locations are gloriously captured by Giles Nuttgens, whose work in Deepa Mehta's Fire still haunts me. Enigmatic, textural music throughout enhances the tension, while the sheer beauty of the backdrop counteracts the ugliness that at hand. The moment when Margaret takes the decision to ask her adversary for help is so intensely moving that I could hardly breathe. 'She's a mother, not a moron,' says Darby at the beginning of the film as he describes Margaret's motherly intuition. And indeed what a mother she is, protecting her son unequivocally and without compromise. We are with her every inch of the way, feeling her every torment, as she retraces her steps to destroy the evidence. And like Margaret, we are sucked in deeper and deeper. As time conspires against her, every single event becomes a final straw. Swinton magnificently imparts the very essence of Margaret so simply, yet with such density. This is truly a performance that resonates with truth. Goran Visnjic, as Alek is riveting: we can actually feel the moment when his conscience catches up with him. Swinton and Visnjic together are hypnotic with chemistry to spare. All the performances are superb: eighteen year old Jonathan Tucker outstanding as Josh, Josh Lucas menacing as Darby and distinguished thesp Peter Donat as Margaret's ailing father-in-law. Profoundly affecting, The Deep End is gripping from start to finish. It is one of my favourite films of the year.
Louise Keller

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CAST: Tilda Swinton, Goran Visnjic, Jonathan Tucker, Peter Donat, Josh Lucas

PRODUCERS: David Siegel, Scott McGehee

DIRECTOR: David Siegel, Scott McGehee

SCRIPT: David Siegel, Scott McGehee (based on the novel The Blank Wall by Elizabeth Sanxay Holding)


EDITOR: Lauren Zuckerman

MUSIC: Peter Nashel

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Kelly McGehee, Christopher Tandon

RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 22, 2001

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: May 15, 2002

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