Deep Water

By Joanna Langfield

This erotic thriller is the kind of flick that will make you ache for the days when you could hang out in the theater lobby afterwards and talk it out. Because while this one may or may not run deep, it’s fun enough to want to hash out , even if the fun in watching just skims the surface.

Adrian Lyne, who knows his way around sexy badness (see Fatal Attraction, Indecent Proposal and 9 ½ Weeks), stages this adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith story with gloss and rather tepid heat. Ben Affleck and Ana De Armas star as Vic and Melinda, a New Orleans married couple who seem to have it all: an adorable daughter, quite the house and a group of great friends. Soon, though, we see their relationship teeters. Melinda has a series of men on the side. Actually, not so on the side. She invites these young men to their group’s parties, is openly, um, open. Nobody likes it. But Vic, it seems, deals. Until we see his methods for doing so.

Like many of his earlier pieces, Lyne walks the line here between boredom and sizzle. Except, curiously, the hotness of what we’re supposed to see is either off camera or chopped up until what we do witness if kind of lukewarm. But, if you’re not looking for anything particularly challenging, you might get a kick out of what’s implied. De Armas, who did so much with so few scenes in No Time to Die, never really convinces us she’s committed to her femme fatale, and Affleck, perhaps appropriately, offers an older, maybe more tired version of his more engaging work in Gone Girl. Still, they are beautiful and their arrangement might titillate. For me, the only true heat was ignited by the always terrific Tracy Letts, who, upon meeting Vic, gives him a look that sent chills down my spine. Now that’s a thrill.