Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. France, 1981. Hamster Productions, Gaumont, France 3, Eléfilm. Screenplay by Florence Delay, Michel Deville, Christopher Frank, based on the novel Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith. Cinematography by Claude Lecomte. Produced by Denis Mermet. Production Design by Didier Massari. Costume Design by Rosalinde Deville. Film Editing by Raymonde Guyot.
Jean-Louis Trintignant is married to gorgeous young Isabelle Huppert, their passionless marriage held together by an unspoken agreement to let her play around with other men. She has a tendency to do this directly in front of him, so when sublimating his masculine pride becomes too much, Trintignant turns murderous with little regret. Their friends find Huppert’s claims against her husband impossible to believe, since how could someone so calm and boring be a killer, placing the two of them against each other in a dance of wills that sees her trying to draw him out while his rage grows. This adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s Deep Water is a subtle, smooth thriller that never overstates its genre: there are no dramatic swells of music or shadowy alleyways, it plays everything straight and simple and its atmosphere is all the more bone chilling for it. Trintignant does great service to Highsmith’s tradition of invisible men who strike back, while Huppert is mysteriously bewitching as the object of his affection.