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The Deep Review


Director: Baltasar Kormákur.

Starring: Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Johann G. Jóhannsson, Þorbjorg Helga Þorgilsdottir.

Running Time: 93 minutes.

Certificate: 12A.

Synopsis: The truelife story of a fisherman whose boat capsizes off the coast of Iceland and finds himself fighting for his life against the elements.

A man’s fishing boat capsizes and he survives in the freezing Icelandic ocean for five hours, only to walk over a volcanic plain to get home. The only reason he survived? His layer of seal-like podge, once reason to bully him, now called a miracle. It sounds like a cross between SPIDER-MAN and what may have happened to Leo after the Titanic went down. The truly remarkable aspect of THE DEEP is that it is true, dedicated to the Icelandic sailors who died in the disaster. A well-executed true story can often be cinematic gold and there is an extra level of power to communicate when an audience knows what they watch really happened. Unfortunately for Baltasar Kormákur, the weight of real life events carries the film, as without them, THE DEEP would remain a poorly executed, highly unbelievable disaster movie.

That is not to say THE DEEP doesn’t have its good points. During the disaster section of the film, Gulli (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) gives a truly excellent performance as he fights for his life in the subzero temperatures of the ocean after the truly harrowing shipwreck scene. While his talking to seagulls to maintain his sanity is no Tom Hanks and Wilson, the real life aspect to the moment really gives it some weight. The only downside to this section of the film is that it could have gone on much longer when there is never much sense that he is in the water for as long as the backstory claims. Difficult as it is to carry a film with a singular character for such a length of time, in retrospect, as the centre of the film, the audience will be wanting more.

It is in the remainder of the film where the fault really lies. With the direction keeping the good sections shorter in favour of the rather dull script that deals with Gulli’s return to the village, the rest of the film frankly drags. At the film’s close, Gulli speaks the words, “I’m nothing but a small drop in the ocean. No one is really bothered with this happening to me.” These are powerful words, but the film’s script is a huge disappointment in comparison, with a lot of conversations monosyllabic and dull. However, if there is a positive to be gleaned, it is brave to depict the film inline with an Icelandic, true-to-life spirit, in a land where humans shouldn’t inhabit amongst the frozen seas and flowing lava. Infrequent flashbacks show the people of the village just getting up again when the Westman Islands’ 130 volcanoes attempted to create a modern Pompeii, but though well-made, these feel slightly out of place.

It is fantastic to see a film which can be just as compelling without alien fleets, super spies or the latest book adaptation during blockbuster season. However, it is a big disappointment that this film, given its real life superhuman story material, fails to deliver throughout the vast majority of its runtime when it has so much potential.

Two StarsTHE DEEP is released in UK cinemas on July 12th.

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