Starring: Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Joi Johansson, Stefán Hallur Steffánsson
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Running Time: 95 mins
The Deep (Djúpið) is an Icelandic film about the true story of a fisherman who had to endure the freezing waters of the North Atlantic after he was left as the only survivor of a tragic shipwreck.
The survival genre is right up there with my favourites, so I was really looking forward to this film. On the whole, while it does a decent job at its survival story, it’s a generally underwhelming watch, that goes a little too far into the events surrounding the tragedy that unfolds instead of working to its strengths and providing a gripping and emotionally tense survival drama.
Let’s start on the plus side, with the fact that when the film is focused on being a survival drama, it works well. The shipwreck sequence is excellent, and the following half an hour in which we watch our main character totally isolated in the cold and dark North Atlantic is hugely engrossing.
Brilliantly acted and directed throughout the entire act, you get a fantastic sense of isolation, and Ólafsson does an excellent job at bringing you into his character’s desperate will to survive, as well as his utter confusion at being lost at sea and having seen his fellow crew members die before his eyes.
That period of the film is definitely the high point, but there are other positives. Although it’s not delivered flawlessly, which I’ll get onto in a second, the film’s focus on the unexpected negative effects of surviving a tragedy, shown in the latter half, are an original take on the genre, working in similar fashion to Cast Away, but bringing a more dour and dramatic side to things.
However, as interesting and different a premise as it is, it’s not quite so perfectly pulled off. The film’s very heavy and dark dramatic atmosphere works well early on, but in the latter half, things become a little too down in the dumps, without the same level of properly engrossing emotional drama as we watch a man who has already suffered such physical torment now return to face a similar level of mental turmoil.
It’s an interesting premise at first, but it just doesn’t work out as well as I felt it could have, and that left me wanting a return to the film’s stronger area, which is watching man vs. nature in the most inhospitable of conditions, so that’s why I’m giving The Deep a 7.2 overall.