Davies opens out Rattigan’s play beyond Hester’s fading flat and has written a superb scene which features Hester and William taking tea with his mother. ‘Will you be going to Wimbledon this year, mother?’ asks William – a judge at work but a mouse in her presence – not long before mother shoots at Hester: ‘Oh, you’ve put the milk in first!’ Pauses and absences hang horribly in the air.
Performances are strong: Russell Beale is excellent as William and Hiddleston convinces as infantile Freddie, a man reliving the war in his head. Weisz is good at conveying how Hester struggles in social situations, especially at pub and tube-platform sing-songs when Davies’s operatic side comes into play. Yet there’s something about ‘The Deep Blue Sea’ that feels studied and precious, a knock-on, perhaps, of the formality and emptiness of the relationships at its heart. It’s sad as a story and deeply evocative as a period piece, but it fails to take a grip on the heart in the same way that the very best of Davies’s films do.