The Swinging Sixties were over and all that was left was the murky hangover of the party decade. The Deep End is a highly expressive take on what came afterwards and is released now on Blu-ray and DVD. Mike (John Moulder-Brown) is a naïve teenager who feels hes missed all of the fun and freedom of the Sixties. Stuck in the perpetually dull morning after of the 1970s, an era of uncertainty and shifting sexual tides, Mikes life takes a sudden change when he finds a job at a rundown swimming pool. Whilst working, Mike learns some valuable life lessons, particularly when one of the more mature bathers (former bombshell Diana Dors) tries to take advantage of him. But Mike has fallen for brassy co-worker Susan (Jane Asher), who just happens to be in a relationship already. Becoming increasingly obsessed with Susan, Mike blindly follows her into the sordid underbelly of Soho on a wild night out. Over the course of the evening will Mike convince Susan to leave her fiancé and start a relationship with him? Polish director Jerzy Skolimowskis intriguing drama is a close examination of adolescent sexual obsession and the violence that comes with such intense emotions. The gritty nature of the narrative is combined with elements of humour, to produce a film that is simultaneously bleak at points but also light-hearted. Mikes infatuation with the older Susan is a symbol of the changing sexual tides that occurred during the 1970s. The sexually liberated Susan is happy to lead Mike on with her coy flirtations, only to reject him for her own twisted pleasure later. The naïve Mike longs for a sexual awakening, but when the older female client attempts to take advantage of him he cannot handle the attention. Skolimowski expertly captures the essence of Mikes burgeoning sexuality and the false bravado (plus true underlying fear) of an adult relationship. As Mikes obsession with Susan develops, his vast inexperience in all things sexual becomes painfully apparent, as he is enlightened to the fluid and expressive sexuality he never knew she had. The film meanders along nicely but the slower than average pace may turn some viewers off. However, as the film works towards its rather unnerving climax viewers will be hard pushed to find a more compelling and frankly disturbing drama. The cast are superb within their roles, with both Asher and Moulder-Brown giving stellar performances within their allocated roles, together combining just the right amounts of sexual tension and obsessive infatuation respectively. However, Diana Dors shines as the predatory older client who tries to take advantage of the naïve Mike. Dors, who was known for her sexbomb performances in 1950s romantic comedies, she was characterised as the British Marilyn Monroe. Unexpectedly cast against type, she is vulgar and unattractive in her role here. However, she also manages to generate a huge amount of comedy in her brief cameo. The entire cast give extremely raw performances that help add to the gritty and twisted narrative, producing a highly engrossing film of one of British cinemas darker decades.
QUALITYThe BFI have managed to produce very high quality audio and visual transfers, meaning that Deep End both looks and sounds fantastic. The colour palette is expressive, with deep inky blacks and vibrant earthy tones that represent the rather gaudy 1970s era perfectly. Skin tones are rich and it is only the older Dors who looks heavily made up under the close scrutiny of full 1080p HD. Certain scenes remain rather grainy, but this is not particularly distracting even when it is rather course. In fact, at times this adds to the more realistic element of the narrative and helps firmly root the audience in the centre of the action. Deep End retains its filmic quality despite the upgraded definition, offering viewers an extraordinarily gritty representation of post-Sixties London. One of Deep Ends most accomplished achievements is its expressive and engaging soundtrack. Featuring tracks from the legendary Car Stevens, plus cult Krautrock band Can, the audio sounds deep and rich in the 2.0 Mono upgrade. The audio is full, with very little hiss, meaning that dialogue always remains clear and audible.
EXTRASThe BFI produce some of the best Blu-ray/DVD releases, with an impressive amount of additional features that will suit the most devoted of cinephiles. The standard dual addition Blu-ray/DVD release contains the following extras: Starting Out: The Making of Jerzy Skolimowskis Deep End - this deeply insightful 2010 feature length documentary takes a compelling look at the making of the film. Containing recent interviews with stars Jane Asher and John Moulder-Brown, plus director Jerzy Skolimowski, the documentary runs for 74 minutes. Deep End: The Deleted Scenes - This mini documentary takes a look at the scenes which Skolomowski chose to leave out of the film. Produced in 2010, it runs for 12 minutes and explores the scenes in an interesting way, explaining why they didnt make the final cut. Original Theatrical Trailer Careless Love (Francine Winham, 1977) - This 10 minute short film also stars Jane Asher and focuses on the drastic actions a woman to takes to retain the attention of the man shes desperately in love with. This gritty short is a compelling watch that will certainly be of interest to Ashers fans. The three disc special edition release also contains the following exclusive extras, in addition to the above: Recalling Deep End - This 2011 documentary was recorded during a live interview on the Southbanks stage between Asher and Moulder-Brown with BFI curators William Fowler and Vic Pratt. Lasting 25 minutes, the in depth chat offers an engaging insight into the production. Deep End 2011 Re-issue Trailer Both editions come with a comprehensive booklet that includes new, intriguing essays from filmmaker and writer David Thompson on the film itself; an article on British Cinema and Permissiveness by film lecturer Yvonne Tasker; a brief biography of Skolimowski by Ewa Mazierska, the leading authority on the director; a snippet on the soundtrack by BFI curator William Fowler; and a making of commentary on Careless Love by the films director Francine Winham. The high quality of all the additional material means that the BFIs release are leagues ahead of any of those released by other companies. Film: 4 out of 5 The timeless quality of this tale of adolescent obsession means it speaks volumes to contemporary audiences, as well as offering a unique insight into an era that is often overshadowed by its more progressive predecessor. Visuals: 4 out of 5 Excellent visual quality is displayed in the upgraded 1080p transfer. Minimal grain means that the film appears in strikingly good condition for its age. Bright colour hues and rich blacks help cement this. Audio: 3 out of 5 The cult soundtrack is also in brilliant condition, with the high quality making for a well rounded audio experience. Dialogue is clear and crisp throughout, with virtually no hiss apparent. Extras: 4.5 out of 5 An impressive array of special features pads out this solid release. The BFI dont fail to impress as usual with their acute attention to detail in offering extra textual information to entice the most interested of viewers. Presentation: 3.5 out of 5 The striking front cover image of Asher and Moulder-Brown in naked ecstasy will surely capture most peoples eyes. Overall: 4 out of 5 As usual, the BFI offer a very compelling release that encapsulates an intriguing film and a host of impressive additional features. For anybody who is a fan of either cult or British cinema, this is a must have release! The Deep End is available on 3 Disc Blu-ray and DVD now.
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