Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.
Original title: Le Grand Bleu
France/USA/Italy, 1988. Gaumont, Les Films du Loup. Story by Luc Besson, Screenplay by Luc Besson, Robert Garland, Marilyn Goldin, Jacques Mayol, Marc Perrier. Cinematography by Carlo Varini. Produced by Patrice Ledoux. Music by Bill Conti, Eric Serra. Production Design by Dan Weil. Costume Design by Blandine Boyer, Magali Guidasci, Malika Khelfa, Mimi Lempicka, Brigitte ierhaus, Martine Rapin, Patricia Saalburg. Film Editing by Olivier Mauffroy.
Rosanna Arquette plays an insurance investigator who travels to South America to deal with the crashing and sinking of a construction vehicle. While there, she meets the deep sea diver (Jean-Marc Barr) who has been hired to find the truck and falls in love with him. Unable to get him out of her mind once she returns home, she travels to Europe where he is performing in free-diving competitions, the most dangerous sport in the entire world, and the two of them enjoy a complicated romance. Also thrown in the mix is Barr’s best friend and fellow diver, a reckless kamikaze (Jean Reno) who has no fear of the ocean. Despite some gorgeous underwater scenes, particularly the ones where Barr and his childhood dolphin friends go swimming, this clunky drama is a total washout. The romance between the two leads hasn’t a single spark, owing to Barr’s lack of character and Arquette’s being insanely annoying, while Reno’s energy overpowers them both so much they’re shoved right off the screen. The story moves far too slowly (in either edit of the film you see, the two or three hour version), and pads the diving competition sequences with ineffective character development, so that by the time you get to the end you’ll want to drown them all. Luc Besson’s visual style was already in full force (the dream sequence is fantastic, as is the beautiful, spooky ending if you’re seeing the director’s cut), but his writing and direction still had a ways to go.