THE DEEP END
Mom’s Love Uber Alles
Release Date: August 10, 2001
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Goran Bisnjic,
Jonathan Tucker, Peter Donat,
Josh Lucas, & Raymond J. Barry
Genre: Film Noir
Runtime: 99 minutes
Distributor: Fox Searchlight/20th Cent. Fox
Director: Scott McGehee & David Siegel
Executive Producer: Robert H. Nathan
Producer: Laura Greenlee, David Siegel &
Writer: Scott McGehee & David Siegel
Address Comments To:Lindsay Law, President
20th Century Fox Film Corp.
A Division of Fox, Inc.
10201 West Pico Blvd., Bldg. 38
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone: (310) 369-4402
The movie opens with concerned mother, Margaret Hall, driving from her South Lake Tahoe home to a nightclub in Reno, Nevada, called The Deep End where she confronts the owner, Mr. Reese, for his predatory seduction of her son, Beau. She found out about this because Beau was in a car accident while drunk and on drugs and accompanied by Mr. Reese.
While her two younger children, her daughter, Page, and young son, Dylan, seem like ordinary children, Beau, applying for a music scholarship for college, has been seduced into the homosexual world. His mother confronts him and he is hurt badly when she tells him that Reese agreed to take a bribe to stop seeing him.
Reese shows up that night and tries to have one last fling with Beau. They fight in the boathouse, and Reese falls through a railing to be impaled on an anchor. The next morning, the mom finds the body and thinks that Beau murdered Reese. Thus, she tries to cover up the crime, tying the anchor around Reese and taking him to a little cove to dump him into Lake Tahoe.
Her husband, Tom, is in the U.S. Navy, and she is unable to get hold of him. She is in over her head and makes one mistake after another. A gangster who was in business with Reese, named Alek Spera, says that Reese owed him and his partner money. They know that she murdered Reese, or at least they assume that she did because he was going to visit Beau that night. They want her to get them the $50,000 within 24 hours.
Margaret tries to get the money, but of course nobody will giver her any money without her husband’s signature. When she doesn’t show up to meet Alek, he drives over to her home and finds her bent over her father in law who has just had a heart attack. Alec helps Margaret apply CPR. The ambulance comes, and Alec is left alone in the house. It is clear he is beginning to understand from looking at the pictures and saving her father-in-law that this woman is a mother and this family of ordinary people has been thrown into extraordinary, horrifying circumstances. The next day he argues with his partner and comes back to tell Margaret that she only has to come up with $25,000. By pawning all her jewelry, she can only get $12,000. Alek’s partner comes to track Margaret down and maybe break a few legs and arms. Alek comes to her rescue, and the climax begins.
THE DEEP END asks the question how far a mother will go to save her family. The question implies the premise, which is that a mother’s love will triumph over all adversity. There’s much good in this premise, but the problem is that the movie resolves it in ways that don’t make sense and demand criminal behavior. Several critics were snickering. Of course, they may have been upset by the anti-homosexual theme, where the predatory Mr. Reese gets his comeuppance. However, the way that the initial death of Reese occurred, the easy solution was for Margaret to go to the police. When the video of Resse and Beau committing sodomy was shown to her, again she could have gone to the police. Regrettably, the writer, in wanting to tell this particular story, left too many plot holes, a few of which are absurd and even laughable. At one point, Margaret confesses her murder to her blackmailer. This is clearly not a smart move.
In spite of the script problems and the extreme romantic worldview, there are positive elements here. The family holds together, and forgiveness and love are the denouement. The unstated message of this film which people at the screening seemed to get was that the real problem with this ordinary family was the extreme absence of the father.
Scottish actress Tilda Swinton is superb as the American mother and has received rave reviews for this movie. She makes you believe some of the improbable moments. In fact, all of the acting is good, which is to the credit of the directors. The cinematography too is to be commended.
In all, THE DEEP END is a mixed bag. It’s a brave effort at filmmaking, but contains rough language and rough violence, as well as the homosexual video scene, which is pretty explicit, though not salacious. Also, it’s hard to remember a movie that’s given homosexual behavior a worse rap.
THE DEEP END asks the question how far a mother will go to save her family. The question implies the premise, which is that a mother’s love will triumph over all adversity. There’s much good in this premise, but the problem is that the movie resolves it in ways that don’t make sense and demand criminal behavior. In all, THE DEEP END is a mixed bag. It’s a brave effort at filmmaking, but contains rough language and rough violence, as well as a homosexual video scene, which is fairly explicit