The Deep End


The Deep End

Critics Consensus

A well-acted film noir with arresting visuals.



Total Count: 117


Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,681
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Movie Info

A mother is drawn into a sinister web of blackmail while trying to protect her son in this drama. Margaret Hall (Tilda Swinton) is a wife and mother of three living in Lake Tahoe, whose husband is a Naval officer stationed in the Atlantic ocean. Margaret's oldest son, teenaged Beau (Jonathan Tucker), is gay and has become involved with Darby (Josh Lucas), a disreputable older man whom Margaret does not trust. Margaret confronts Darby and tells him to stay away from her son, but Darby isn't easily dissuaded, and he comes by the house late one night, leading to a fight between Beau and Darby. The next morning, Margaret discovers Darby's body on the beach, with an anchor piercing his chest. Not sure what to do, Margaret hauls Darby's body out to sea, and dumps it where she hopes it will not be found. Margaret tries to get her life back to normal, until a man named Alek (Goran Visnjic) appears at her door. Alek appears to know something about Darby's death, and he definitely knows about Beau's relationship with him; in fact, he has a videotape of Beau and Darby having sex, and he's prepared to make it public unless she'll pay him $50,000. Margaret is in no position to pay the money, but is desperate to protect her son and attempts to reason with Alek. Surprisingly enough, in time it works, and Alek withdraws his request for blackmail money. However, Nagle (Raymond Barry), a local crime boss whom Alek works for, is not nearly so generous. The Deep End was adapted from a novel by Elizabeth Sanxay Holding, The Blank Wall, which was previously filmed by Max Ophuls as The Reckless Moment. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi


Tilda Swinton
as Margaret Hall
Goran Visnjic
as Alek Spera
Jonathan Tucker
as Beau Hall
Peter Donat
as Jack Hall
Raymond J. Barry
as Carlie Nagel
Josh Lucas
as Darby Reese
Tamara Hope
as Paige Hall
Holmes Osborne
as Loan Officer
Richard Gross
as Deputy Sheriff
Jordan Dorrance
as Dylan Hall
Franco Delgado
as Barrish Brother
Kip Ellwood
as Male Nurse
Michael Pizzuto
as Heavy-Set Officer
Tajma Soleil
as Female Nurse
F.W. McGehee
as Music Teacher
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News & Interviews for The Deep End

Critic Reviews for The Deep End

All Critics (117) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (96) | Rotten (21)

  • Swinton ... is for once deglamorized into an ordinary woman enlarged by extraordinary circumstances, and the role animates her wonderfully.

    Nov 18, 2002 | Full Review…
  • For the most part ... the filmmakers and performers invest a high level of intelligence and sympathy into The Deep End.

    Jun 18, 2002 | Rating: 3/4
  • A rather dull movie, weighed down by its pretensions.

    Nov 19, 2001 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    Ben Falk
    Top Critic
  • For all its genre trappings, this is an intelligent, probing study of an ordinary woman under extraordinary duress.

    Aug 31, 2001
  • The Deep End is the year's best movie since Memento.

    Aug 29, 2001 | Full Review…
  • The Deep End does what too few films even attempt -- it takes an ordinary life and places it in an extraordinary situation just believable enough to be terrifying.

    Aug 27, 2001 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Deep End

  • Jan 22, 2016
    Despite the riveting plot summary, the only things that rescue "The Deep End" from being bland are Tilda Swinton's strong performance as a terrified, desperate mother and a somewhat interesting music score. Otherwise, it's dime-a-dozen weekend afternoon TV fare.
    Christian C Super Reviewer
  • Aug 10, 2013
    The Deep End is a well-executed all around noir, one that features yet another powerhouse performance from Tilda Swinton. The story, revolving around a housewife caught in the midst of a blackmail scheme involving her son, is told in way that creates constant tension, being truly suspenseful. The end result is a film that is smart, engaging, well acted, and often compelling. What catapults Deep End over typical noir films is, without question, Tilda Swinton. Swinton's acting range has long been lauded, and here she completely inhibits her character, conveying a powerful sense of desperation, while also employing a smart cunning. She is surrounded by other strong performances, the most impressive of which being Goran Visnijic, with whom she held a great deal of chemistry. The script for Deep End is also smart. It gives us scenarios that are grounded in reality, characters with motivations and actions that we can identify with. We understand why they act the way they act, and are therefore invested in both the decisions they make, and the situations they find themselves in. This smart script is complemented by tight direction, which creates a magnificent atmospheric yet intense tone, in the vein of other great noir films, such as In the Bedroom. While offering us the intrigue of a good noir film, Deep End never forgets to keep the emphasis on the characters and their plights. This emphasis on character dynamics serves the film well, and makes it an overall strong noir piece. 4/5 Stars
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 04, 2011
    A pleasant surprise. A thriller with more than one twists. Tilda Swinton is a delight to watch.
    Nicolas K Super Reviewer
  • Jan 03, 2011
    Maybe when someone has watched over 500 thrillers in his life, he just doesn't appreciate them anymore. I really think it's happening with me, because I know this is a fine flick, but I just couldn't appreciate it enough. It's perfect, it has no flows, and Tilda Swinton is just fantastic in surely one of her best performances ever (omitting Michael Clayton). Like most thrillers, the deep end is highly predictable and plain, and lacks the extra adrenaline dose to have you thrilled, something that should be essential to this genre.
    Raja N Super Reviewer

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