Wednesday, June 22, 2011

#320. The Deep End (2001)

Directed By: Scott McGehee, David Siegel

Starring: Tilda Swinton, Goran Visnjic, Jonathan Tucker

Trivia:  Margaret's date of birth is November 5, 1960. That's also Tilda Swinton's date of birth

Margaret Hall (Tilda Swinton) is a very busy woman. 

Her husband, a naval aviator, is away from home months at a time, so it’s up to Margaret to take care of their three children as well as her live-in father-in-law (Peter Donat), all while trying to maintain a beautiful Lake Tahoe home. 

Recently, things have gotten pretty chaotic for poor Margaret. Along with helping her youngest son (Jordan Dorrance) track down his lost baseball mitt and talking with the dry cleaners about her father-in-law’s pants, she’s trying to raise $50,000 to pay off a pair of blackmailers and keep her eldest son Beau (Jonathan Tucker) out of jail. 

Where does she find the time? 

The Deep End, a thriller by co-writers / directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel, is the story of one woman’s struggle to maintain a degree of normalcy under incredibly abnormal circumstances. As played by Tilda Swinson, Margaret is a courageous, intelligent woman who will stop at nothing to protect her family, even if it means breaking the law. 

It all began when seventeen-year-old Beau, a closet homosexual, had an affair with nightclub owner Darby Reese (Josh Lucas). Margaret, who disapproved of Darby’s lifestyle, told him, in no uncertain terms, to stay away from her son. 

Ignoring this warning, Darby drives out to the house one night to meet secretly with Beau, which leads to a violent argument between the two. A few punches are exchanged, and Beau storms off. Darby, exhausted from the fracas, leans against a fence post on the family's dock, which breaks and sends him plummeting to his death. 

The next morning, while out on a stroll, Margaret finds Darby's corpse and - fearing her son may have murdered him - spends the next few hours disposing of the body. She never breathes a word of this to anyone, nor does she ask Beau any questions. 

Darby's remains are eventually discovered by the authorities (miles away from the Hall residence), at which point Margaret receives a visit from Alek Spera (Goran Visnjic), a one-time business partner of Darby's. Alek shows Margaret a video of Darby and Beau having sex, and says that he and his partner, Charlie Nagel (Raymond Barry), know that Darby spent his final night in Beau’s company. 

Hoping to collect on money that the late Darby owed them, Alek and Charlie demand that Margaret turn over $50,000 by 5 p.m. the following day, or they'll make sure the video ends up in the hands of the Tahoe police department. 

The Deep End convincingly blends Middle-American melodrama with the seedy world of film noir, telling the tale of a normal housewife who has no alternative but to deal with some very shady characters. 

Yet when it comes to the welfare of her family, Margaret is prepared to do just that, and more besides. Even Alek, who instigated the blackmail, comes to respect Margaret as she tries to balance his attempt at extortion with the unending demands of everyday life. Thanks to a superior performance by Tilda Swinton, Margaret is both strong and believable, a woman doing her best under impossible circumstances. 

Margaret Hall is a woman who goes the distance, and is ready to defend her children at all costs. For her, it's nothing out of the ordinary... it’s just what being a mother is all about.

No comments: