There’s a purity to the English actress Rachel Weisz, as she glides from playing a doctor in the popcorn thriller “The Bourne Legacy” to a love-besotted wife in the intellectual romance “The Deep Blue Sea.” In the latter film, she plays Hester Collyer, a postwar English aristocrat who risks everything for an affair with the charming but vapid pilot Freddie Page (“Thor’s” Tom Hiddleston). Weisz delivers an Oscar-worthy performance that merits a second look. Adapted from the Terence Rattigan play and directed by Terence Davies, “The Deep Blue Sea” is one of the best films of 2012 that you probably haven’t seen: It grossed $1.1 million domestically, while “The Bourne Legacy” hauled in $275 million worldwide.
One difference between the two movies: In the big-budget “Bourne” Weisz is the chief damsel in distress; in “TDBS” she’s the lead, and her character’s story drives the plot. The posh Hester has married an older man for love and social position and then gets blown sideways when she meets a man in uniform who unleashes her libido. There’s a thematic parallel to “Anna Karenina,” another historical fiction about a women who exits a stifling marriage through infidelity and suffers the consequences.
Weisz, who married Daniel Craig last year, was sitting over breakfast in a boho East Village cafe with me as she reflected on Hester’s parallels with Keira Knightley’s Karenina. In both movies, the husband isn’t demonized to justify the wife’s action. In “TDBS,” Sir William Collyer (Simon Russell Beale) clearly wants the best for Hester despite her infidelity. “Yes,” agreed Weisz, “he’s a nice guy. He’s a sweetheart. When I read it, I’d imagined a really evil, horrible, nasty husband.” [Read more…]