Although released in 1970, Deep End can be considered the last great
British film of the swinging 1960s - which tells the unrequited love
story of naive teenager Mike (John Moulder-Brown) and Susan (Jane
Asher), after Mike takes a job at a rundown public baths where Susan is
the female attendant.
Skolimowski's foriegn eye and view as an outsider pays credence here,
as he has no objective viewpoint of public culture in London or is not
making a comment about Englishness. The Polish filmmaker is more
concerned about his characters, their hopes and dreams, fears and
aspirations. He is very much linked to Mike and how his desire
for Susan can be both uncertain and both definite in its totality.
Mike first makes physical contact with Susan by rubbing her up in a
porn theatre whilst she is on a date with her fiance (a scene that
might have been lightly plagarised by Taxi Driver for awkwardness
sake), and it is a wonderfully handled scene where the camera is
predominantly fixed on Asher in the middle gaze and Brown swaying in
the background. After her initial compliant, Susan kisses Mike
fully on the lips and she turns back and smiles lightly - but you can
tell she is happy she has done it. Mike is needless to say
delirious. But a scene that could have been farcical is instead
Like a lot of swinging 60s cinema, there are moments of submissiveness
(Diana Dors' cameo as a woman getting off on the name Georgie Best),
permissiveness (the idea of a 15 year old engaging in a physical
relationship - but this is no rites of passage story) and
anti-authority (all the suits are stuffy and has beens).
Much like his compatriot Polanski's own London set film (Repulsion,
1967), the film follows a luminous lead female but on this occasion
Jane Asher is not the one driven to distraction. Moulder-Brown's
engaging lead performance as Mike holds the film together.
The film though can be held up as an example of sexual politics as
Susan, mainly due to her age, manipulates the emotions of Mike leading
to the bewildering conclusion.
Yet what remains true is the brilliant direction of Skolimowski - who
handles Mike like a barometer for the temperature of a changing London,
and uses fantasy sequences to his advantage to develop Mike more as an
individual and utilise the fine camerawork of Charly Steinberger.
The film also had a brilliant soundtrack by then up and coming Cat
Stevens and French rock band, Can.
The DVD is released by the BFI Flipside on Monday 18th July. Special
features include a Skolimowski's documentary (74mins), Deep End:Deleted
scenes (12mins), Original theatrical trailer, a Jane Asher short from
1977, Careless Love (10 mins) and essays from David Thompson, Yvonee
Tasker and Skolimowski's expert Ewa Mazierska.