I think it was right around when Roy pulled out the flask while Eleanor was looking over his place for rent - that I first thought to myself, ‘This might be a more complex story than your usual coming-of-age tale.’ And I’d say that was confirmed by the fact that Roy came stumbling into her suite drunk in the middle of the night soon after she moved in - and then proceeded to step over his passed-out body in the hallway the morning after. To Eleanor’s credit, she seems to take all this in stride - and much to our chagrin, we have to assume as watchers that it’s because she’s unfortunately used to that behavior. She doesn’t take any shit, though, and I’ve got a lot of love for the way her character is written & the way that Olivia Fildes portrays her strengths onscreen. There’s resilience in her spirit, and you get the sense that she has seen quite a bit of what this world has to offer in her short lifetime.
Even when she gets beat up in an alley on her way home, Eleanor doesn’t flinch in the same way you or I might. She not only seems to expect it from this world, but it also takes her little time to recover from the event and carry on. Strangely, it’s almost like she’s invisible. Watch the scene where she’s getting an interview for a new office job – even the guy doing the interview takes a phone call right as they’re in the middle of it all. She does eventually meet a great guy, some might even say the right guy, but of all things, Eleanor seems like she’s got the blinders on when it comes to people who give her the kind of attention she should be seeking out. She’s more comfortable with the questionable characters like Roy (Cris Cochrane) or his friend Charlie (Adam Rowland), who aren’t exactly without their own merits, but let’s be real here – they’re both sketchy AF.
Eleanor seems to turn a blind eye to their worst attributes willingly, and we end up wondering whether or not she’s going to find herself in some real trouble beyond what she typically handles. To say Roy is an acquired taste would be a massive understatement. He’s an unapologetic alcoholic, more than capable of going on benders and binges worth thousands of dollars. She rejects advances from the guy we’re cheering for and becomes more aggressive, seeking out the attention of the naughty boys like Charlie. We continually root for Eleanor to somehow find some success or the place where she truly belongs, yet through the cleverness of the writing, we have to ask ourselves what right we even have to do that. Shouldn’t Eleanor be every bit as allowed to f*** up like the rest of us? It might never be easy to watch, but we see our friends do it all the time. It’s a matter of where we draw the line to let people be who they are despite knowing that the lessons that lay ahead will be painful. Try as we might, we can’t wish them away or ever change anyone’s course of action; they’re gonna do what they’re gonna do, plain and simple. We’re all better for going through what we go through; Eleanor will be too.
Here, we’re watching the hard parts of a lifetime when we see her…all the pain, confusion, and tortured emotions we get to enjoy as we’re growing up. It certainly ain’t easy, as most of you reading this already know, but something about the way Eleanor is - convinces us she’s gonna be just fine no matter what comes her way. I can’t say enough about the performance from Fildes; it’s about as perfect as it could get. In particular, when you see her waiting for a train to take her to wherever it is she’ll end up towards the end of the film, you appreciate how Olivia is the type of actress capable of saying everything without the use of a single word. She’s gifted with her ability to express her thoughts, feelings, and emotions even in the silent times, and she’s a tremendous asset to this film that Andrew Walsh has put together.
I really liked the way this movie moves. As we’re watching, we never really know if it’s going to be more involved & complex than the moment we’re actually seeing onscreen at the time, and after it’s all over, we genuinely appreciate how Walsh was able to show us that even the most complicated moments of our lives are really quite straightforward & relatable too. I like that Walsh didn’t try to get all kinds of fancy with the filming or take us out of a great character story by using cheesy effects or screen wipes. I suppose ”How Deep Is The Ocean” is arguably fairly meat & potatoes when it comes right down to it, but I felt like it makes for one seriously hearty meal all comprised of food for thought. Walsh wrote stellar characters, and he let them carry this film by finding the right actors to play them, which was another wise choice on his part as well. It was the perfect way to tell this story, and on the strengths of performances from Fildes, Cochrane, and Rowland, in addition to the supporting cast built around them, “How Deep Is The Ocean” was an insightfully compelling movie to watch. I’m going with a strong four stars out of five. I not only enjoyed this movie, but I’d watch anything else with Fildes in it after seeing “How Deep Is The Ocean” or something else written/directed by Walsh any day.