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The Deep End  

Directors: Scott McGehee, David Siegel; Producers: Scott McGehee, David
Siegel; Screenplay: Scott McGehee, David Siegel
Based on the novel "The Blank Wall" by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
Cinematography: Giles Nuttgens
Music: Peter Nashel
U.S. Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures

In The Deep End, an engrossing relationship drama is made more tantalizing by
the film noir mystery that envelops it. You'll get caught up in the film because you'll have a rooting interest: You care about these people. Particularly Margaret Hall. The hard-pressed but resourceful housewife at the center of the tale is played with the utmost skill and intelligence by Tilda Swinton, in one of the season's premiere performances.

Margaret Hall is in deep. She has just covered up a murder she thinks her son
has committed. Now a stranger has appeared, trying to blackmail her. Margaret and her family live along the shore of Lake Tahoe, outside Reno, Nev. She cares for her three school-aged children and her sickly father-in-law while her Navy husband is at sea. Not only that, she has to cook a roast, take her daughter to ballet lessons, try and get in touch with her husband, who is on a boat in the middle of nowhere, make sure her son gets his college applications submitted on time, worry about the recently discovered fact that he is gay and take out the
trash. She has no time for tragedy, no time for murder, no time to raise money she doesn't have in the first place. Her son needs to get to water polo practice.
She has no time for a living nightmare. But she's in it. Powered by Tilda Swinton's performance, The Deep End does what too few films even attempt -- it takes an ordinary life and places it in an extraordinary situation just believable enough to be terrifying. Swinton's Margaret is hardly a superhero or a fashion model, just a mother trying to protect what's hers. The day-to-day practicalities of her situation give this film authenticity, and the fine touches that the writing/ directing team of Scott McGehee and David Siegel add give it extra boost. In a novel turn, only the audience knows what really caused the death. And far from the classic unruly punk, Margaret's son, Beau (Jonathan Tucker), is a talented musician filled with good potential. You can see why she wants to protect him.

Disrupting her life is Alek (ER star Goran Visnjic in a nicely measured performance). Alek and a partner have a tape that could destroy Beau's life
and make him a murder suspect. But as Alek pressures Margaret, he observes
the fullness of her life and sees it is worth protecting, which he ends up

Nitpickers may find certain plot turns too convenient, but since this is a
film about a real woman in an unreal situation, the plot hardly has to be
rigid. Swinton -- who somehow looks ethereal and earthy at the same time -- has been an undiscovered art house treasure most of her career, but the way she carries this woman's burden will open many eyes.

Engrossing, nerve-wracking and emotionally true, The Deep End is sure to
be one of the year's best films.

3.5 out of 5

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