What price will a woman pay to protect her child? That is the question at the center of The Deep End, an emotional thriller that features an impressive, nuanced performance from Tilda Swinton.
Margaret Hall (Swinton) is a hell of a mom. Her husband, a Navy officer, is frequently on duty, leaving her with the burden of looking after their three children. The eldest of these children, Beau (Jonathan Tucker), is a closeted 17-year-old. At the beginning of the film, Beau is in a car wreck while driving home from a local gay bar. Margaret warns his 30-year-old sexual companion, Darby (a very sleazy Josh Lucas), to stay away from her son.
When Darby is found dead the next day, the victim of an accidental anchor-through-the-chest, Margaret does what any mother who is afraid that her son has committed an act of murder would do--she moves the body, destroys the evidence and acts as if nothing has gone wrong. Her plan works well until Alek (ER's Goran Visnjic) shows up, and tries to blackmail Hall with a pornographic video featuring her son.
Hall swiftly turns the tables on Alek and his accomplice, not through brute force or kiniving, but by using her own femininity like a sword. Hall is an excellent model of new feminism--banks and credit card companies will not forward her the money to pay the blackmail without her husband's signature, so she instinctively uses her own talents and compassion to turn the blackmailers against each other. She derives her strength from the fact that everyone underestimates her because of her femininity. Woe are they.
The rest of the film, notably the development of the supporting characters, is not as strong as Swinton's performance, but the film's message and its believability make The Deep End worth the plunge.
--By Martin Barna