Eleanor, a young drifter, arrives in Melbourne with nothing. She struggles to adapt, but eventually finds her place in Andrew Walsh’s Australian drama How Deep Is The Ocean.
The Australian film industry is a vibrant and diverse sector with a long and rich history. Thanks to many supportive government agencies, the industry has seen significant growth in the past few years and has generated billions of Australian dollars, a number that is expected to increase. The past five years have seen successful Australian films, including “The Dry”, “The Dressmaker”, and “Lion” which have all been well-received by critics and audiences alike and helped to raise the profile of the Australian film industry internationally. How Deep Is The Ocean is the latest feature film to come from the country and, while not rattling any cages or pulling up many trees, it should keep things ticking over nicely
Olivia Fildes plays Eleanor, a young woman with a troubled past. Arriving in Melbourne with very little to her name, she manages to find a boarding house to stay in but struggles to adjust to her new life. The film follows her journey as she struggles to adapt to her new surroundings and spends most of her time working low-paying jobs and pursuing a hopeless relationship with a married man.
With this movie, director Andrew Walsh follows the John Cassavetes school of filmmaking as How Deep is The Ocean is made in a sort of improvisational style. It’s obvious that Walsh has encouraged his actors to improvise some of their lines with this becoming noticeable when some of the scenes seem to amble along without any real direction or advances in the plot. However, among these moments, using this particular style does lead to some flashes of work that feel spontaneous and real. By writing a script that focuses on character development as opposed to any other aspect, Walsh helps us get to know these people quite well and we sometimes see some raw and unflinching, portrayals of real life.
Cinematographer Scott David Lister uses wide shots, two shots, and a number of long takes, and these help with the sense of realism by enabling the viewer to see what goes on – unfolding in real time an aspect that is quite effective with the film and managing to capture the feelings of everyday life. Along with his artistic choices, Lister’s lighting also aids with this aspect; warm lighting is used when he wants to create a sense of coziness and intimacy, while cool blues and white hues create a sense of mystery or suspense and, although we don’t get to see a great deal of it, the underwater photography that is there is very well shot. The music that is used to accompany the film’s sequences is successful in managing to set the tone and mood with some simple incidental piano music that influences how the audience feels and interprets Eleanor’s story.
How Deep Is The Ocean is a passive and reflective 76 minutes of film that will not really challenge its audience but will provide some moments of quiet contemplation, allowing you to just sit down with a nice cup of tea and relax.