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The Deep End
2001 - R - 99 Mins.
Director: David Siegel, Scott McGehee
Producer: David Siegel, Scott McGehee
Written By: David Siegel, Scott McGehee
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Goran Visnjic, Jonathan Tucker, Josh Lucas
Review by: Harrison Cheung

Can't you tell I'm completed enraged?
Tilda Swinton, the severe and pale red-head from ‘Orlando’ and ‘The Beach,’ takes a crack at an American accent with the fascinating if flawed Sundance winner, ‘The Deep End.’

Swinton plays Margaret Hall, a mother of a teenage son, Beau (Jonathan Tucker), who is stunned with the double-whammy that her son is gay and going out with an older, slimy local nightclub owner, Darby (Josh Lucas). She takes it upon herself to sever the relationship but when she confronts Darby, he bluntly asks her for $5000 to leave her son alone.

One night, Darby sneaks over to the Hall house on the lake and has an argument with Beau and accidentally ends up dead. But when Margaret comes across the body, she immediately assumes that her son was involved. In a classic 'look what mothers are capable of’ move, she goes to great lengths to hide the body and she fends off a would-be blackmailer (Gordon Visnjic) to protect her family and her son's future.

While the story is intriguing, there are a lot of problems with ‘The Deep End.’ Swinton's performance is disappointingly and unconvincingly low-voltage - as if a dead body and her son's troubles are simply hiccups in a soccer mom's schedule. There's a scene where Margaret sees a video of her son in bed with Darby and she calmy turns the TV off. Jonathan Tucker wins my Wil Wheaton Award for acting with a quivering lower lip. Again, an unconvincing performance as a 17-year-old son who doesn’t struggle with his sexuality or his hostile relationship with his mother. He’s more worried about the possibility of missing band practice!

Given that his mom is covering up a murder for his sake, Tucker's portrayal deserves a jolt of Red Bull – he’s not particularly concerned or worried that his mom has just discovered that he's been boning away with a sleazy nightclub owner with mob ties! Um, ground that kid, mom! No more TV for you!

Best performances here come from the sleazy lounge lizard, Darby (Josh Lucas) who oozes danger as a sexual predator. Peter Donat, as the Hall family grandfather adds some grounding to an otherwise unbelievable family.

While the family soap opera story is intriguing, the problems with ‘The Deep End’ are insurmountable flaws of logic. How could the mother keep so calm and collected? Why would a blackmailer decide to become sympathetic? How could the son remain so complacent over the death of his lover and his mother’s involvement in a murder cover-up?

By the end of the film, I wanted to see Margaret bristle with tension or holler at her son for the trouble and consequences of his sordid relationship. This is a movie that sorely needed a screaming match. Imagine if Margaret was say, Lois, from ‘Malcolm in the Middle?’ That would have been a show! ‘The Deep End’ could have benefited from a film noir treatment but instead stays too light hearted in the shallow end of a drama. Moms are tough, no doubt. But moms get mad!

Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

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