THE DEEP END
Fox Home Entertainment, $29.98
IN THE SPIRIT of The Pledge and In the Bedroom, The Deep End is a new hybrid of thriller and melodrama, probing a small-town American's emotional fragility in the wake of a grisly killing. The tension is mined less from police procedural window dressing than the subtle internal conflicts of said protagonist.
Scott McGehee and David Siegel, who wrote, produced, and directed The Deep End (inspired by the pulpy '50s crime novel The Blank Wall), demand heightened audience concentration to grasp these rather literary nuances, but their product lacks the depth and immediacy to warrant such legwork. End's DVD is as threadbare and ultimately disappointing as the film itself, boasting only a droning commentary track from McGehee and Siegel and an "Anatomy of a Scene" featurette culled from the Sundance Channel. The latter commits a half hour of analysis to a pivotal confrontation between protective mother Tilda Swinton (Orlando), accessory to a murder her son is unknowingly involved in, and her increasingly sympathetic blackmailer, Goran Visnjic (ER). We learn that these two were intentionally shot on the outskirts of trees and similar "fractures" to evoke the distance between them. Wow. How's that for an original metaphor?
The directors' commentary is saddled with halfhearted bitching about shooting around sudden downpours on location in Lake Tahoe, Nev. The auteurs go into purple-prose overdrive in lauding Swinton, who repeatedly submerged herself in frigid Tahoe to maintain continuity. Pity that McGehee and Siegel didn't accompany their lead out of shallow waters.
LEADERSHIP of a higher order characterizes the Kenneth Branagh- starring Shackleton (released April 9 on a three-disc set), which just played on cable. April 16 greets crap like Texas Rangers and Black Knight but also affords another chance to see Tape, with Ethan Hawke's second big performance last year (after Training Day), which also stars his wife, Uma Thurman, in a one-act play well adapted by Richard Linklater. On the subject of acting talent, the superior 1978 post-Vietnam drama Coming Home debuts on disc April 16 with Oscar-winning turns by Jane Fonda and John Voight. The latter joins equally fine co-star Bruce Dern on the commentary track.