Ana de Armas makes a splash with Ben Affleck in ‘Deep Water’

The 'Knives Out' actress is the best part of the new erotic thriller streaming on Hulu.

Deep Water film review
Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas in "Deep Water." Claire Folger/20th Century Studios

“Deep Water,” the new movie streaming on Hulu starring onetime couple Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas, is a throwback to a bygone era. The 1980s and ’90s were the pinnacle of the erotic thriller, with auteurs like Paul Verhoeven (“Basic Instinct”), Brian De Palma (“Body Double”), and William Friedkin (“Cruising”) titillating audiences with sexy leads and devilish motives.

No director more mastered the genre better than Adrian Lyne, whose filmography contains some of the best erotic thrillers ever put to celluloid, including “9 1/2 Weeks,” “Fatal Attraction,” and “Indecent Proposal.” For “Deep Water,” his first film in 20 years, Lyne has picked up the rights to a novel by Patricia Highsmith, author of the similarly thrilling “Strangers on a Train” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”


Despite the pedigree assembled, “Deep Water” can be a bit shallow and silly at times. But even the basic thrills and surprising laughs it provides are more than enough to make for an entertaining evening.

The Plot

“Deep Water” follows the Van Allens, a couple in a decidedly unconventional marriage. Vic (Affleck) is a semi-retired millionaire who spends his days working on a vanity project of a magazine and caring for his one true love, his pet snails. Melinda (de Armas) spends most of her time attending parties with Vic, where she proceeds to get drunk and openly recruit new paramours, who tend to be young, dumb, and handsome. Vic seemingly takes all of Melinda’s brazen infidelity in stride, making reassuring comments to his perplexed friends. But when Melinda’s beaus begin to turn up dead, all of Vic’s straight-faced jokes suddenly lead people to wonder whether the milquetoast cuckold is capable of crimes of passion.

The Good

Of the two leads, de Armas is allowed to have more fun, and she makes the most of it. In “Knives Out,” de Armas’ live-in nurse Marta is meek but good-hearted, and ultimately indefatigable. Melinda is Marta’s polar opposite, a firecracker who is openly cruel to Vic, daring him to be man enough to do something about her dalliances. Affleck is in full “Gone Girl” mode, all blank stares and repressed grins, but the contrast works well.


Even better are the cast of friends and acquaintances that populate the fringes of the film. In particular, Lil Rel Howery (“Get Out”) plays the perfect audience surrogate, his mouth agape as the couple’s sordid drama plays out at each subsequent cocktail party.

Ana de Armas in “Deep Water.” – 20th Century Studios

The Bad

“Deep Water” is very much a hit-or-miss movie, with entire scenes in which characters act in a manner that defies expectation. That’s likely thanks in part to the script co-written by Sam Levinson, who has made a name for himself as showrunner for the HBO teen drama “Euphoria.” Levinson and co-writer Zach Helm have tweaked details from Highsmith’s novel so that Melinda no longer fears that Vic could be a serial killer, but is instead turned on by the possibility. To enjoy the numerous moments of implausibility, you must fully turn off your brain and enjoy the ride.

Should I watch “Deep Water”?

If you can look past the patent absurdity of “Deep Water” and cut Lyne some slack for being off his A-game at age 81, the film is darkly funny, and features a third act reveal that is worth waiting around for. If you can’t cut loose and let the inconsistencies go, however, “Deep Water” will be a certified belly flop.


Rating: 3 stars (out of 4)


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