IMDb Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066122/
Director: Jerzy Skolimowski
Jane Asher .... Susan
John Moulder-Brown .... Mike
Karl Michael Vogler .... Swimming instructor
Christopher Sandford .... Fiance
Diana Dors .... Lady client
Louise Martini .... Prostitute
Erica Beer .... Baths cashier
Anita Lochner .... Kathy
Anne-Marie Kuster .... Nightclub receptionist
Cheryl Hall .... Hot Dog Girl
Christina Paul .... Hot Dog Girl
Dieter Eppler .... Stoker
Karl Ludwig Lindt .... Baths manager
Eduard Linkers .... Cinema Owner
Will Danin .... Policeman
Description: Deep End is set in a fetid public bathhouse-swimming pool in a less than desirable section of London, and the central focus belongs to Michael, a 15-year-old who gets his first paying job as an attendant in that none-too-classy establishment. It is not an ideal job, but he has no choice: his work opportunities appear to be tight due to his relatively limited education and his working class upbringing (he is berated for addressing his new employer as “Guv” rather than “Sir”). The bathhouse doesn’t seem to have a large staff: outside of its owner, the only people on duty are a receptionist, a maintenance worker, and another attendant. That latter individual is Susan, who is in her early twenties and is a bit too eager to take Michael under her wing.
It appears that being a bathhouse attendant requires a little more than cleaning out tubs and handling out towels. Susan explains to Michael that the women who come for a bath like a bit of extra attention – especially if the attention delivered by sweet teenage boys. She also mentions in passing that some men like that same level of attention, but we never get to see that happen to Michael (Susan has the monopoly on the male patrons).
Michael is initially horrified that this is expected of him, and his first day on the job finds him being pawed over by an overweight, sexually rapacious middle-aged woman with a fondness for soccer players (she’s played by one-time glamour girl Diana Dors, and it is hard to imagine that she was once considered the British equivalent of Marilyn Monroe). Eventually, Michael gets the hang of the job and begins to generate considerable tips from his satisfied clientele.
Michael, however, begins to develop the hots for Susan. It seems like a silly idea, since she clearly runs hot and cold on him – sometimes she is teasing and warm, other times she’s insulting and indifferent. Michael’s interest in her grows obsessive, and he doesn’t care that she has both a boyfriend and a fiance. He even follows her when she’s on a date – to a porno theater, of all places – and feels her up in the darkness of the cinema (she slaps him and agrees to have the police intervene, but then she appears to enjoy the attention and vanishes before formal charges are pressed).
“Deep End” then literally goes off the deep end as Michael’s mania for Susan intensifies. In one of the film’s most disturbing moments, he swims naked in the bathhouse pool while embracing a large cardboard cutout of a woman who vaguely resembles Susan. Michael eventually gets his clothing-free moment with Susan, but his hopes and dreams don’t quite turn out as he anticipated and his attempt to preserve an unrealistic dream in the face of harsh reality ends badly for all concerned.
The strength of “Deep End” rests in the performances by John Moulder Brown as Michael and Jane Asher as Susan. Brown captures the awkwardness of a 15-year-old brilliantly – his gangly body and immature personality represents works in progress, and his inability to recognize the cruelties of life will create pain for anyone who recalls their own teenage missteps in the realm of the heart. Asher, who is better known today as Paul McCartney’s girlfriend during his Beatles bachelor period, is equally astonishing in spinning Susan’s nasty blend of wickedness, comfort and ice. The characters created by these two actors are aching in their genuine tone and texture.
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