Filmmaker and erotic thriller auteur Adrian Lyne returns to cinema after a twenty-year absence with Deep Water, an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel of the same name (scripted by Zach Helm and Sam Levinson), starring Ben Affleck as Ultimate Wife Guy Vic and Ana de Armas as Sexy Mom Melinda. Vic and Melinda have a very unhealthy relationship in which Melinda begrudgingly “gave” Vic a daughter, Trixie (Grace Jenkins), to care for while she gallivants all over town, f-cking everyone but her husband. Vic makes a series of depressed faces about all this cheating but does little to stop his wife’s blatant affairs that everyone knows about. Except, oh, maybe he killed one of her lovers.
Seeking to intimidate Melinda’s latest conquest, Joel (Brendan Miller), Vic tells Joel that he killed Martin McRae, a man who has recently disappeared and was one of Melinda’s “friends”. This makes its way around town as a rumor, and Vic claims he was joking, but their neighbor Don (Tracy Letts) doesn’t find the joke very funny. Then, Melinda’s new friend, Charlie (Jacob Elordi), is found drowned in a pool during a party. It appears to be an accident, but since Vic joked about killing Martin, now everyone thinks he’s a suspect. So it’s all very awkward and for an erotic thriller, there is almost no sex in this movie. Vic spends more time stroking his snails than he does his wife.
That’s not a euphemism, Vic has a shed full of snails behind the house. He’s super into the snails—which are not for eating—and visits them all the time and makes sure their little mister is going off regularly to keep them damp. The snails raise a lot of questions. How does everyone know Vic keeps a shed full of snails and not just have constant questions about the snails and what Vic is doing with them? What are you doing with the snails, Vic? Why do you need that many snails? Why does ANYONE need that many snails? Do snail scientists keep that many snails? This is a bothersome number of snails for some guy to have in a shed behind his house. Does Vic smell like snails all the time? Sure, he’ll eat ass, but does he smell like snails when he does it? Does Melinda maintain her own bedroom because she can’t stand Vic, or because he smells like snails? Is Vic really the cold fish Melinda thinks him to be, or is it just that he smells like snails? Could all the problems in this movie be solved if Vic would just take a damn shower and stop smelling like snails?
In between time spent with his snails, Vic goes to his photo studio where he’s making a boudoir album for his wife, because he is a total wife guy. He also does some light stalking of Charlie before he’s drowned, and then more light stalking of Tony (Finn Wittrock), Melinda’s old friend who shows up after Charlie is dead. Vic has all this free time for stalking and photography and snails because he invented a computer chip that goes in drones. Don doesn’t like this, but Vic won’t take moral responsibility for how the drones are used, which would be more of a red flag if Vic didn’t have a shed full of snails in his backyard, which is the reddest flag of them all. Tony visits the snails and is like, Is this for science? And Vic is like, Science…sort of… Which is super suspicious. Does Vic need the snails to survive? Is VIC a snail?
Deep Water is a good-looking movie starring good-looking people having approximately three minutes of sex and forty-five minutes of snail petting. Sure, Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas have good chemistry, but Ana de Armas is both a good enough actor and beautiful enough to have chemistry with a toothbrush, and besides, there is very little sex in this sexy movie. Mostly, it’s about watching and being watched, and the eroticism derives from Ana de Armas’s screen presence and occasionally a nicely composed shot of entwined limbs, but then the snails are back and that’s not sexy or erotic it’s just. Why are there so many snails in Vic’s shed? Adrian Lyne really came off the bench to make a movie about a guy with a shed full of snails, this is the weirdest erotic thriller I’ve ever seen, there’s just SO many snails. It’s too many snails.
Deep Water is now streaming on Hulu in the US and on Amazon Prime everywhere else.