Director: Bette Gordon
The Drowning has been on Netflix for a while and I had it in my list, but I haven’t watched it until last night. The film is from 2016 but Netflix advertises it as 2017 and the film has been added a few months ago or so. Regardless of the official release date, it is a new film for Netflix viewers such as myself.
The film is about a psychiatrist Tom Seymour (Josh Charles) who works for the court and gives opinion on various cases, including murder cases committed by children and teenagers. In one such case he gave a negative opinion, which sentenced one boy to a long-term imprisonment.
However, he gets released from prison and Tom ends up accidentally saving him from drowning. As it turned out, he was not drowning at all but rather jumped to the sea to cool down. The boy is a young adult now and he starts stalking Tom. Nevertheless, he develops a friendly relationship with his wife Lauren (Julia Stiles) who does not know he is Danny Miller (Avan Jogia) from one of her husband’s cases, as Danny now lives under a fake name Ian to avoid the press.
Tom cannot tell his wife that Ian is Danny and that he is stalking them rather than accidentally showing up because he was asked by Danny’s parole officer not to disclose his true identity to anyone including his wife, and thus the film narrates worrying of Tom about his wife and his struggle to keep Danny away and maintain good relationship with his wife who does not understand why Tom objects to friendly encounters with Ian (Danny).
I will not go into details on whether Danny is truly innocent about the murder of an old lady. Suffice to say that there was some doubt when he was sentenced and it was Tom that put him behind bars with his opinion, and Danny is throughout the film claiming that he did not do it. However, as he blames Tom for his years in prison he forces him to act as his therapist and stalks his wife. We remain oblivious how Tom will react and what will actually happen until the very end of the film. The ending is done in an interesting way, because we are lead to believe the film will end but then all of a sudden we see ‘14 months later moment’ and this is where the film shocks us because this is indeed the last thing we expect…
However, the biggest failure of the film is an unsuccessful attempt to tackle child psychopathy, and while the film does explain that Danny was abused by his father it does not go deep enough into this to make the film deep and outstanding. We know that Danny did not like having chickens tied to his hands and then feeling them die when his father would decapitate them, but this should have been explored in more details. Equally, we know that Tom is writing books about his cases (the last one gets published by the end of the movie) but we never hear anything about it. We also never hear anything about his thoughts of the cases and murders committed by children. There is plenty of literature and textbooks that could have been consulted here. Nevertheless, we only vaguely hear that Tom has almost killed a boy in his childhood by pushing him into the water and we get a sense that this is why he became a psychiatrist but this is again not explored in details.
A good attempt to tackle an important issue, but unfortunately not explored enough. Good creativity from the side of the director in regards to the shocking ending of the film, and good acting throughout.
Thank you for reading.