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Filmmakers You Should Know: Terence Davies, Cinematic Poet of Mid-Century British Melodrama

Photo of Eric Kohn By Eric Kohn | Indiewire March 23, 2012 at 1:38PM

For nearly 30 years, Terence Davies has maintained a reputation as one of British cinema's brightest voices with just a half dozen features.
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Closing Night Film for the London Film Festival: Rachel Weisz in "The Deep Blue Sea"
Terence Davies' "The Deep Blue Sea."


"The House of Mirth" (2000)

Davies' heartbreaking adaptation of Edith Wharton's 1905 novel stars Gillian Anderson as the energetic socialite Lily Bart, whose world gradually crumbles as she endures a cycle of romantic confusion culminating with tragic events. "Mirth" proved Davies was equally adroit at extending beyond his own childhood to convey the combination of solemnity and extraordinary beauty at the root of his style.

"Of Time and the City" (2008)

While Davies' earlier films were blatantly personal, this documentary essay goes one step further. Davies narrates a gorgeous black-and-white tribute to his Liverpool childhood with a blend of existing footage from the era and extraordinary classical music selections, resulting in a supremely involving first-person guide to a period Davies remembers better than anyone. Although technically a diary film, "Of and the Time City" is also an essential work of cultural history.

"The Deep Blue Sea" (2011)

Returning to adaptations, Davies takes on Terence Rattigan's 1952 play about a depressed young woman (Rachel Weisz in her finest onscreen role since "The Constant Gardener") torn between her stable marriage to a judge (Simon Russell Beale) and a passionate affair with a much younger air force pilot (Tom Hiddleston). Although in some ways simpler than Davies' previous efforts, "The Deep Blue Sea" is still remarkably involving as it follows Weisz from one dramatic moment to the next in her never-ending quest to resolve an impossibly downbeat situation. Weisz delivers, but as always, the real star is Davies' focus on fluid camerawork and tone.

This article is related to: Terence Davies, Filmmakers You Should Know





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