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The Deep End (2001)

The Deep End single poster.jpg

The queer re-imagining of The Reckless Moment, based on the novel The Blank Wall, by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, is not as radical as one might have anticipated. Scott Mcgehee and David Siegel had made waves (at festivals at least) with Suture so this incursion into middle class critique represented a new turn. The teenaged daughter from the original film is now a gay son (Jonathan Tucker), whose mother (Tilda Swinton) is presented with a complex dilemma. She finds her son’s lover’s body at the family lakeside dock following the couple’s fight and disposes of the corpse. Then she is blackmailed with a vhs of her underaged child being sodomised by the man. She has to find the money while running a three-child household without a husband – he is at sea – and a father in law who has a heart attack; she can’t find anything like the sums being demanded in exchange for the tape;  finally she is confronted by the real blackmailer behind the gay hustling ring which targeted her son. All the while she finds herself falling for the blackmailer’s sympathetic partner (Goran Visnjic) who has been tasked with extorting the impossible funds. The new setting (Lake Tahoe, not Balboa California), the updating to make it about sex not class, the shooting style (perfect, clipped by Brit DP Giles Nuttgens), all work perfectly to support a fine performance from Swinton. There is a reference to the earlier film (Mason’s character’s name) but otherwise this is a standalone and rather resonant success, the natural outgrowth of New Queer Cinema.

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About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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