There is something that is mildly jarring about the storytelling of In Love and Deep Water. A lot of the plots are rather unexplained, and the love story doesn’t make a lot of sense amidst the mystery and the character’s personal problems. A good chunk of this review will be questions regarding the plot holes because of the sense of incompleteness that the audience is left with at the end of the film.
Let’s talk about the love story of Chizuru and Ubukata first. Ubukata delivered a beautiful line, the ‘almost’ one, and it was easily the unintentional highlight of the film, but while the couple had sufficient chemistry, essential chunks of their story were missing. First of all, we were never given an explanation as to why Ubukata was the way he was. Was there some particular trauma of past experience, or was there some particular philosophy that made him so willing to be a ‘lightning rod’? He did not have a problem being assertive but was simply choosing not to be, and such a quality demands an explanation. Next was Chizuru, and the audience was never told anything about her. Who was she outside of her relationship with her cheating ex and the man she was currently falling for? Why was she able to connect with Ubukata so quickly that she was able to make a conclusive decision to give him a chance over the man she had been with for much longer? This was especially upsetting to us because, as said before, the actors had chemistry. They had the tension that convinced the audience that these two were capable of falling in love. Yet, the writing failed them. Also, it is important to remember that both of them just discovered their partners’ cheating. Why was it so easy for them both to move on to another person in less than a matter of days? It would have made more sense if they had been shown as reconnecting after a few months of the cruise.
Secondly, the unfolding of the mystery was a huge irritation for us. The audience was never in any doubt about the real killer of the old man. In fact, the murder was explicitly shown to us. Perhaps that thrilling element could have been how Chizuru and Ubukata uncover the truth for all, but that ended up being eclipsed by their love story. Finally, the tiny twist in the tale did not last more than two minutes, which meant that at no point was the audience able to enjoy the mystery to its fullest. Thirdly, there is a bit about another love story, this time between two kids. As touching as it was, what was the significance of that other than to say that kids don’t have the correct priorities? A simple omission of the child as a witness would have still resulted in the same set of events and made the film a little more concise. Also, there was an opportunity missed with comedy and character exploration through conversations between the kid and Ubukata. That would have added something to the whole thing.
Lastly, we must talk about the supposed guilt of the rich white man who dies. If a man is old and rich, it is easy to predict that he is going to drop dead in no time, which is why Sohei, as the victim, was clear to the audience even before he died. Anyway, he talks about a crime in his past, and the audience is never given a clear idea if this was a regular feature for him or if it was a one-off thing. If it was the latter, was he really pushed into a corner to the extent that he had no choice? To be honest, the audience seldom looks for a perfect mystery in such kinds of movies, but they do look for excitement. It was the one thing that was sorely missing from the entire film, and the reason for it was extremely evident, which was the incomplete nature of all the subplots.
To focus on the good things, the set of In Love and Deep Water looks stunning. The cruise, the scenery, and the characters look on point. The actors do a fabulous job with their characters and all of their eccentricities, which means that, at the end of the day, they were simply let down by the writing. However, there is another thought that comes to mind at a time like this. Maybe this film would have been better suited as a series. In other words, the mix of ingredients just needed a bigger pot. Look at the subplots that the writer wanted to inculcate: a love story between heartbroken individuals, a rich man with a shady past, his family that is up to no good, a ship captain who is too focused on her vanity, and a child who desperately tries to take care of another girl’s issues because of the affection he feels for her. A series would have had room for the elaboration of each of these plots properly, and though it wouldn’t have changed the overall story, it would have made it a lot richer and more meaningful. We can simply not get over a couple with good chemistry but an insufficient story. Ubukata and Chizuru deserve more. The audience deserves more. It is also important to address the editing of the movie. Granted, this is based more on suspicion than anything else, but it feels as if a few parts of the film were hastily stitched together. This is in regard to the issues we have raised with the story, and it is our belief that perhaps there were important bits that were cut out in the final edit. That would explain the disconnect between the vision, the talent, and the final product.
In Love and Deep Water is just one of those cases where, despite having all the right elements, they were not able to marry well together. Strictly speaking, this movie is alright, yet that remains our greatest complaint because it is easy to tell that its objective was to be fabulous. Why that was not possible needs to be studied, and until then, this film remains a serious pass.