It is about time we see Latinas on display screen taking part in extra complicated and dynamic roles. Cuban actress Ana de Armas’s position as Melinda in “Deep Water” definitely matches that description, though her character has me pondering possibly I needs to be slightly extra cautious what I want for. In Hulu’s newest thriller, she’s unhappily married to Vin, performed by Ben Affleck. They might have a treasured younger daughter, a giant lovely home, and the fortune to go along with it, however Melinda and Vin exist in a psychological thriller, and issues will not be good — particularly when Adrian Lyne is the director. Lyne is the man who made “Deadly Attraction” and “Indecent Proposal,” and he got here out of a 20-year retirement to direct this movie, which is all to say, regardless of having all the trimmings of a fantastic life, Melinda and Vin are deeply disturbed.
My uneasy emotions surrounding the movie began with fear about De Armas’s character. We first see her being a “dangerous mother” — yelling at her daughter to cease taking part in “Previous MacDonald.” Her daughter doesn’t hear. In distinction, Vin is there as the nice, affected person guardian. He pertains to his daughter as he performs, listens, and engages together with her on a deeper stage than Melinda. Now, if the genders have been reversed, the impression would not be that Melinda was a nasty guardian. However the parenting double customary exists, and right here it is wielded in opposition to Melinda, organising the viewers to dislike her.
It does not assist that she cheats on her husband, throwing her infidelity in his face. Their complete good friend group is aware of. (How may they not, when she’s making out with randoms at their events) And she or he appears to not have any pursuits apart from hooking up with younger males who will not be her husband. Melinda is portrayed as the everyday hypersexual Latina, and simply in case you may miss that she is Latinidad (maybe because of De Armas’s gentle pores and skin or her character’s privileged place), her thick accent makes certain to offer it away.
However that is just the start. As “Deep Water” unfolds, every part, together with Melinda, will get extra difficult. It begins when Vin boasts to considered one of Melinda’s younger lovers that he murdered her earlier paramour — the person is lacking, in spite of everything. The rumor spreads shortly via their small neighborhood, and whereas, usually, people agree that Vin is joking, the movie does not give a definitive reply to what occurred.
“Deep Water” shifts between present occasions and flashbacks (or fantasies), and it is unclear whose perspective we’re seeing, so the questions simply mount. In a intelligent little bit of filmmaking, I wasn’t certain how far Melinda takes her dishonest and the way far Vin takes his violent impulses till it began occurring exterior of flashbacks and fantasies. Alongside the way in which, I teetered between Melinda and Vin, seeing them as each sufferer and villain, uncertain who to root for and even tips on how to perceive their specific recreation of cat and mouse. I imply, who’s the cat right here? Who’s the mouse? I am nonetheless unsure I do know.
And in that grey house, “Deep Water” excels. Because the film closes, Melinda’s selections, and what the movie leaves undecided, are complicated and dynamic. I take pleasure in seeing Latinas taking part in extra complicated characters in movie, and despite the fact that the alternatives Melinda makes aren’t the alternatives I’d make, they do pose fascinating questions. What’s the position of jealousy in love? How are we complicit in our companions’ actions? What duty can we take for our kinks, significantly after they damage others? Is all actually honest in love and battle?
“Deep Water” lives in ethical ambiguity, asking us to look intently at Vin and Melinda in a form of Rorschach-test manner which will reveal one thing ugly about ourselves. So whereas I discover Melinda deeply troubling, I am glad De Armas is taking part in her, and as an explicitly Latina character at that. Latinas expertise the complete breadth and depth of the human expertise; we vary in temperament, inclination, and even morality as a lot as some other group. And it is good to have movies that painting that, even, or maybe particularly, after they make viewers like me uncomfortable.