Following the one-two punch of the pandemic and Deep Water stars Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas breaking up after an almost year-long, heavily-photographed relationship, it seemed like the erotic thriller was, well, dead in the water. The film was eventually set for a streaming release on Hulu, where at least it won’t become just another footnote in Affleck and de Armas’ careers.
However, the first reviews are rolling in for Deep Water, and some critics appear to actually love the throwback vibes from the film directed by Adrian Lyne, who was the master of erotic thrillers like Fatal Attraction and Unfaithful. That said, others did not enjoy Deep Water‘s plot (particularly the murder mystery central to the film), but there’s an almost unanimous theme running through each that the movie is a weird, wild mess that’s hard to look away from.
Here’s what the critics are saying.
Mike Ryan, Uproxx:
It’s been so long since we have gotten a mainstream sleazy movie (released by Disney no less) starring two movie stars (at least, as much as anyone can still be a movie star today) that it feels like a whole new concept. To the point that Deep Water makes no sense, it’s impossible to make heads or tails out of character motivations, and there’s no real resolution or payoff to anything, yet I enjoyed this trashy dumb thing more than I ever thought I would.
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter:
The primary usefulness of Deep Water is as a record for celebrity chroniclers of the off-camera romance that made co-stars Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas a tabloid thing for a minute, hopefully with better chemistry than they generate onscreen. But it does serve a secondary purpose for those of us who have ever considered the prodigious gifts of Tracy Letts as both playwright and actor, and wondered, “Is there anything he can’t do?” Well, turns out he can’t emerge unscathed from an Adrian Lyne erotic thriller, not that anyone does in this case.
Vince Mancini, Uproxx:
A simple story that tracks, with aberrant characters and the boldness to be weird; when was the last time we got one of those? Deep Water is not only a refreshing throwback to the days of mid-budget thrillers aimed at adults, but perfect for at-home binging.
Maggie Lovitt, Collider:
Deep Water doesn’t do a very good job of helping the audience connect with its cast, as Vic and Melinda are both very surface-level characters. Between the two, Vic is the far more developed character. We see that he is a dedicated father who adores his daughter, and we see him tending to his unique snail-raising hobby. Melinda, on the other hand, is set up to purely be a beautiful and promiscuous wife that has a drinking problem. de Armas is an extremely talented actress, but it feels like she gets typecast as the eye candy that lacks any real depth.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire:
“Deep Water” may be as short on steaminess and stingy with nudity as you might expect from a movie in which sex is almost exclusively used as a weapon, but Lyne maintains a studied fascination in the messiness that tends to follow — emotional or otherwise. (Or, told another way, this critic can’t remember the last time I saw an A-list movie star pick a pubic hair out of her teeth on the big screen.)
Peter Debruge, Variety:
There’s something missing from Adrian Lyne’s “Deep Water,” and it’s not just the body of Martin McRae, the last unfortunate rival to get a little too friendly with Vic Van Allen’s wife. Vic (Ben Affleck) and Melinda (Ana de Armas) have an open marriage, but her … distractions have a habit of disappearing, and so do pretty much all ties to recognizable human behavior in the “Fatal Attaction” director’s unexpectedly cool-headed adaptation of the 1957 Patricia Highsmith novel for Hulu. This erotic thriller is still sexy and plenty entertaining, mind you, but it’s just not very useful insofar as what it says about real relationships.
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian:
Deep Water looks like a huge amount of material has been shaped in the edit but there are odd gaps and elisions. De Armas behaves as if she’s in some saucy cologne commercial, and Affleck appears to have necked a hundredweight of Percocet before the cameras rolled.
Pete Hammond, Deadline:
Despite what should be the sizzling allure of Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas as its stars, the rather plodding sexual thriller Deep Water feels like a reject from the pile of scripts its director Adrian Lyne got in the ’80s. His career was on fire then, notably for Fatal Attraction and other films like 9 1/2 Weeks, Indecent Proposal and his most recent feature credit, 2002’s Unfaithful, which earned Diane Lane a Best Actress Oscar nomination. But no one is getting nominated for this one.
Deep Water starts streaming (not a water pun) March 18 on Hulu.