Neglected and relegated to the occasional late-night television slot since its initial release, Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski’s fable-like tale of obsessive love Deep End finally got its due recognition and acclaim after a recent restoration by Bavaria Film.
John Moulder-Brown plays Mike, a shy and awkward 15 year old who takes his first job out of school as an attendant at a public bathhouse in London. His co-worker is Susan, a beautiful redhead played by Jane Asher (former girlfriend of Beatle Paul McCartney) who inducts him into the sordid dealings of the bathhouse where they help the patrons to indulge in their sexual fantasies in exchange for tips.
Between fending off the lusty advances of overweight middle-aged women and learning the ropes at his new job, Mike soon falls for Susan. When he finds out that she is having an affair with her former teacher while being engaged to another man, his infatuation grows into a dangerous obsession and he begins to find ways to sabotage her relationships.
Like how Mike’s seemingly innocent crush on Susan spirals out of control, Deep End starts out as a playful coming of age story but soon reveals itself to be a chilling study of obsession. From the casting of former child of the sixties Jane Asher as the cynical and manipulative Susan to the stark contrast of Susan’s bright yellow day-glo mac against the drab brown and green hues of the bathhouse, the film brilliantly captured the changing of the times as the optimism and idealism of the sixties gave way to a growing sense of disillusionment and spiritual emptiness as the decade turns.
Funny, unsettling and tragic, Deep End remains one of Skolimowski’s most accomplished and astute works that takes an unflinching look into the darkness and depth of human desire.
(by Jerzy Skolimowski)