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The Next Reel • Season 13 • Series: 2002 Film Independent Spirit Awards Best Cinematography Nominees • The Deep End

The Deep End

“Make a sound and I’m going to drown you in the lake.”

A Sundance Standout That Earned Cinematography Honors

Scott McGehee and David Siegel, the directing duo behind The Deep End, began developing the project in the late 1990s. Inspired by the 1940s novel The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding and the 1949 film adaptation The Reckless Moment directed by Max Ophüls, they set out to create a modern noir thriller centered around a mother’s fierce love and protection for her son. With the help of cinematographer Giles Nuttgens, they crafted a visually stunning and emotionally charged film that caught the attention of the Sundance Film Festival and beyond. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we continue the 2002 Film Independent Spirit Awards Best Cinematography Nominees series with a conversation about The Deep End.

A Mother’s Love, a Son’s Secret, and a Blackmailer’s Agenda

In our discussion of The Deep End, we explore the central premise of the film – a mother who discovers a dead body and believes her son is responsible. Tilda Swinton portrays Margaret Hall, a woman who makes a quick decision to cover up the crime. As the plot progresses, a blackmailer enters the picture, complicating matters further. While we both appreciate aspects of the film, we find ourselves divided on the effectiveness of the story and Swinton’s performance. The cinematography, however, remains a standout element, earning its Independent Spirit Award nomination.

Other Discussion Points

  • The supporting performance of Goran Visnjic as the blackmailer Alek Spera and how his character evolves throughout the film
  • The film’s handling of the son’s sexuality and the potential consequences of his father discovering the truth
  • The use of Lake Tahoe as a setting and its contribution to the overall atmosphere
  • Pacing issues and plot points that we found problematic or unbelievable

The Deep End is an intriguing and visually captivating thriller that sparked a lively discussion between us. While we may not see eye-to-eye on all aspects of the film, particularly Tilda Swinton’s performance and the overall effectiveness of the story, we agree that the cinematography is truly remarkable and worthy of its Independent Spirit Award nomination. The film’s exploration of complex themes and moral dilemmas makes it a thought-provoking watch, even if it doesn’t quite hit the mark in all areas. We have a great time talking about it, so check it out then tune in. The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!

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