Just Look at Them and Sigh: Jumping Into The Deep End Film Review

by Katharine Elizabeth Monahan Huntley

How do parents react to the notion their child may be homosexual? In Jamie Babbit’s But I’m a Cheerleader, a film that aspires to be high camp, a young cheerleader suspected of Sapphic yearnings is sent straight to “straight camp” for deprogramming.

With the exception of the fab faux 50s set design and cameo-worthy stars like Bud Cort and Mink Stole, it’s utterly cheerless.

Scott McGehee and David Siegel’s The Deep End takes a more somber view of Sex Ed. Once main character Margaret Hall discerns her son Beau’s sexual orientation, immediate suppression is the task at hand. Margaret runs errands and runs interference in Beau’s extracurricular activities. When she discovers his sleazy lover’s impaled body on the family dock, it’s anchors away as the offending corpse is disposed of right into Lake Tahoe’s chilly depths.

One more to-do item crossed off her list.

What Margaret deliberately avoids is alerting authorities, or asking Beau about the dead man. This efficiency model does not use her common sense—instead she leaves herself vulnerable to the melodrama of blackmail and potentially, jail.

That a mother’s lot is filled with many and mundane details—enough to cause one to go off the deep end—is the only way to fathom the implausible premise. Tilda Swinton, with her crisp competence and precise manner does manage to nicely button up the film. Goran Visnjic, the brooding blackmailer she swiftly puts to shame, is quite good (not to mention good-looking), as well.

Film bleu is the new film noir as The Deep End is awash in turquoise water symbols. Apologies for the pun, but it’s difficult to restrain oneself when virtually every single frame from Sparkletts to Swan Lake contains a H20 allusion. Stylish, yet distracting. Perhaps the imagery is intended to divert the audience from contemplating the irrationality of a mother who, under the guise of protector, cannot confront her child on critical issues of innocence or guilt.

Ignorance is not always bliss. It is often the agony of intolerance.

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