DEEP END (director/writer: Jerzy Skolimowski; screenwriters: Boleslaw Sulik/Jerzy Gruza/Helmut Jedele; cinematographer: Charly Steinberger; editor: Barrie Vince; music: The Can/Cat Stevens; cast: Jane Asher (Susan), John Moulder-Brown (Michael ‘Mike’), Karl Michael Vogler (Swimming instructor), Christopher Sandford (Chris, fiance), Diana Dors (Mike’s 1. lady client), Louise Martini (Beata ‘Lovely Continental’, prostitute), Erica Beer (Baths cashier), Anita Lochner (Kathy), Anne-Marie Kuster (Nightclub receptionist), Cheryl Hall (Hot Dog Girl), Christine Paul-Podlasky (White Clouth Girl), Dieter Eppler (Stoker), Karl Ludwig Lindt (Baths manager), Eduard Linkers (Cinema Owner), Burt Kwouk (Hot Dog Vendor); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Helmut Jedele; Paramount; 1971-W. Germany/USA-in English)
“A powerful and uniquely slanted coming-of-age film about the troubling sexual awakening of a young boy in a sleazy setting.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Polish filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski (“Moonlighting”/”The Nude”/”Walkover”) brilliantly directs this creepy, disturbing and quirky coming-of-age film as a black sex comedy. It’s written by Skolimowski, Boleslaw Sulik, Jerzy Gruza and Helmut Jedele. The dreary tale is set in a London public bathhouse (filmed at Munich’s Bavaria Studios). Seemingly out-of-place is the hipster background music of Cat Stevens and the German band The Can, but it sounds good.
The socially awkward working-class 15-year-old Mike (John Moulder-Brown), a high school dropout, gets his first job as an attendant in the Newford bathhouse. The virgin is infatuated with the 23-year-old more worldly sexy redheaded co-worker attendant Susan (Jane Asher), who shows him the ropes and informs him the bathhouse is a place of fantasies for their clients–something that should help him with tips from the older women clients. The go-go boot wearing hottie recognizes the teen has a crush on her and gets pleasure playing the part of a cock-teaser, but fails to realize how emotionally twisted is the lad. Her promiscuous lifestyle, where she sees her fiancé (Christopher Sandford) and is having an affair with Mike’s sleazy married former swimming instructor high school teacher (Karl Michael Vogler), puts him in a snit as he obsesses over getting into Susan’s pants and eliminating the competition.
Mike’s frustration in trying to win her over leads to the sicko kid stalking her, pawing her in the movie, stealing her poster he discovers on the site of a Soho strip club, as he continually sabotages her personal relationships by making himself a pest. It ends in tragedy.
Despite the main characters being unsympathetic, this is a powerful and uniquely slanted coming-of-age film about the troubling sexual awakening of a young boy in a sleazy setting. The raw performances resonate, while the unsentimental tale makes you squirm. Even though it didn’t catch on with the public in its theater release, despite for the most part being critically praised, this film is worth checking out for its uncompromising storytelling. Deep End offers a compelling twist on ‘kitchen sink’ realism by telling us that matters of love are unpredictable and are not the be all and end all, as are many of cinema’s coming-of-age love stories.
REVIEWED ON 1/20/2010 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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