Movie review: 'Deep Water' seduces viewers with Ben Affleck, Ana de Armas tension

Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck play Melinda and Nick Van Allen in "Deep Water." Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios
1 of 5 | Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck play Melinda and Nick Van Allen in "Deep Water." Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios

LOS ANGELES, March 16 (UPI) -- Deep Water received a lot of publicity during production when stars Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas began to date. After many delays, the film premieres Friday on Hulu -- long after both actors have moved on, but it saves their enticing chemistry for posterity.

Melinda (de Armas) and Vic Van Allen (Affleck) are parents to 6-year-old Trixie (Jenkins). Melinda seems more passionate towards Vic than he is toward her.


At a party, Melinda becomes romantic with Joel (Brendan Miller), whom Vic threatens with a joke about how he murdered Melinda's last boyfriend. That scares off Joel, but Melinda rebounds with pianist Charlie De Lisle (Jacob Elordi).

Deep Water director Adrian Lyne specializes in thrillers in which marital dissatisfaction turns deadly. Like Fatal Attraction and Unfaithful before, Deep Water builds the tension and creates a sinister mood.

Open relationships are more public in the modern world than they were when Lyne made his previous films. Still, the Van Allens don't seem to officially condone it, yet Melinda continues to practice it.

At home in private, Vic and Melinda are aloof toward each other. Vic stews over Melinda cavorting in front of him, and any love he had for Melinda seems to have faded before the opening titles rolled.


Vic's joke grows and spirals, leading even the audience to suspect he may have murdered someone before we met him. Vic and Melinda make vicious passive-aggressive jabs at each other. She provokes and teases him intentionally.

Vic is also the beneficiary of Affleck's charm, so it's easy to see how he has a lot of friends in the community. He is able to make Melinda jealous enough for her to come onto him after a social event, begging the question: Is this just the game Vic and Melinda play to turn each other on?

Like Unfaithful, a major incident occurs an hour into the movie, which would be a spoiler to discuss in too much detail. The tensions that have been building in the movie's first half pay off in the second, causing Melinda to lash out viciously rather than playfully.

The nature of Vic and Melinda's relationship is intriguing and compelling throughout, let alone the suspicions the film raises about Vic's potential crime. Unfortunately, Deep Water falls apart in the end.

The resolution is a bit too convenient for the complexities the film had established. A disappointing ending could ruin the whole film, but the Van Allens' relationship is fascinating enough to watch, regardless.


Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001 and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012. Read more of his work in Entertainment.

Latest Headlines