The Deep End

Institute History

  • 2001 Sundance Film Festival


With her husband perpetually away at work, a mother raises her children virtually alone. Her teenage son is testing the waters of the adult world, and early one morning she wakes to find the dead body of his gay lover on the beach of their rural lakeside home. What would you do? What is rational and what do you do to protect your child? How far do you go and when do you stop? These are the questions that bubble to the surface while watching The Deep End.

The newest work from filmmaking team Scott McGehee and David Siegel, The Deep End is a riveting study of the complexity of motherhood and the instinct to protect one's young. Adapted from the novel, A Blank Wall, by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, the screenplay is a striking blend of thriller and psychological drama. Exceptionally precise and lean filmmaking makes every shot vital to the story, drawing you deeper and deeper into this woman's nightmare. Tilda Swinton turns in an amazing performance as Margaret, the tortured mother. She hides her fear behind a tight-lipped stare while her clear eyes flash a multitude of emotions in an instant. As she descends into a world of blackmail and extortion, the fabric of her once self-assured middle-class morality begins to unravel. Desperation escalates, and trusting anyone becomes absurd but increasingly necessary. At the bottom of The Deep End there exists a simple truth—sometimes you do unnatural things out of the most natural love.

— John Cooper

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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