Courtesy Claire Folger, 20th Century Studios

The biggest mystery of director Adrian Lyne’s return to filmmaking in the psycho-sexual thriller Deep Water is, why come out of retirement for this?

Speaking of retirement, wealthy, semi-retired military drone chip maker—yes that’s his real job—Vic (Ben Affleck) lives in a loveless relationship with his wife Melinda (Ana de Armas) and young daughter Trixie (Grace Jenkins). To keep their family together, Vic begrudgingly allows Ana to carry on a series of affairs with other men, but when one of her flings turns up dead, the couple falls deeper into a pit of suspicion and accusation.

Notoriously delayed in the pandemic, Deep Water suffers from a myriad of problems: poor plotting, bizarre acting choices—outside of Grace Jenkins, who turns out to be one of the more adorable precocious child characters in recent memory—lack of chemistry between the leads, and an incomprehensible resolution. It’s not at all clear why either of our two main characters bother to stay married to one another. It’s also not clear why Vic devotes a substantial portion of his free time to raising snails. And the most striking tension created in the film is likely the recurring bit of whether Trixie is going to defy her mother and have the Alexa play “Old MacDonald” again.

That said, it’s surprisingly entertaining in its failings, and makes for a great date movie if your idea of a date movie involves frequently looking in utter disbelief towards your date for a shared moment of, “Wait, that really just happened?” Deep Water is a great example of what can happen when you let otherwise competent movie stars just go for it, for better or—and in this case it’s mostly “or”—worse. R, 115 min.

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