Story: Ubukata (Ryo Yoshizawa) works as a butler on a huge cruise ship. He is quite popular with his colleagues because he willingly acts as a "lightning rod" when guests need to vent their anger. Ubukata enjoys his job, and he is also happy that his future wife will soon join him on the long cruise. But then he gets a message saying that she can't make it after all because of work. Shortly afterwards, a new guest appears on the ship, Banjaku (Aoi Miyazaki). She looks for the cabin of Ubukata's girlfriend, and when she finds out who the butler is, she informs him that his girlfriend is having an affair with her boyfriend. She even has proof, as she has access to the messages between the two. The butler has no choice but to believe her, but he barely has time to process the whole thing. Because suddenly there is a dead man - a very rich doctor. However, when Ubukata takes the captain to the supposed corpse, it has disappeared. The dead man's son and the daughter-in-law deny any guilt or that anything has happened at all, especially since the handful of witnesses suddenly claim not to have seen anything. After all, a murder would result in the cruise being canceled and the guests would not be able to continue partying every day anymore. In addition to his private problems, the butler now has to go look for the murderer and find some evidence. Luckily, Banjaku helps him with all this.
Review: The title already hints at the fact that there is also a romance to be found in "In Love and Deep Water", but the main theme seems to be solving a murder mystery on the high seas, just as the trailer promises. But if you actually expect a "Knives Out" or something along the lines of Agatha Christie, you might end up with a pretty disappointing experience. Unfortunately, it's impossible to pinpoint who is supposed to be happy with this mystery romance at all. Because even though the movie gives its characters enough time, the individual personalities and their stories are not able to be intriguing. Last but not least, it's unclear what the movie tries to deliver here. The all-encompassing arc is both the murder and the innocent love story of the two protagonists, and the movie switches so much between those two aspects that, ultimately, you are no longer interested in either of them.
It starts with the fact that we have to wait forever for the murder to happen in the first place. However, the question of who the murderer might be is then put on hold for quite some time. So, apparently speculating about the identity of the person you saw scurrying away for just a brief moment is undesired here. There is also hardly any other information, new suspects, or twists worth mentioning. Towards the end, you do get a few things thrown at you, but the resolution isn't a serious surprise, and even the motive can be found out way in advance if you pay a little attention. Above all, though, it is frustrating that you can't find any suspense here. Instead, there is some humor interspersed here and there, but it can at best be described as shallow and therefore does not really add to any entertainment value. So, all that's left is the stories of the numerous supporting characters that could possibly captivate us. But as soon as you find out that these hardly play any role for the resolution - and you actually become aware of this pretty quickly - disillusionment starts to set in as well.
Despite the fact that so much time is devoted to the supporting characters, they stay surprisingly one-dimensional. There's the movie producer and her star, who finally wants to make it to Cannes with a movie, and there is a couple who is enemies with the two. These personalities are not particularly interesting. Perhaps also because we keep thinking that the information we get about them will inevitably advance the search for the murderer, but this is not the case. That's why at some point, you get quite bored with these subplots, and you choose to stick with Ubukata and Banjaku. At least you know where you stand with these two, and even though they don't have much more depth either, Ryo Yoshizawa ("Bleach") and Aoi Miyazaki ("Rage") at least manage to offer some viewers a nice romance when the two eccentrics inevitably realize that they actually fit together quite nicely.
The fact that nothing really happens in this "mystery thriller" for such a long time makes the over two hours of running time seem even longer. When you least expect it anymore, the focus shifts to the murder; only to then return to the romance again. And just when you think the movie is coming to an end because the love story gets its resolution, we are suddenly presented with the murderer and a motive after all. Still, this feels more like an epilogue than anything else, and the resolution is also very convenient. But since you didn't expect anything at this point at all, it at least puts you in a somewhat satisfied mood. If you keep looking at it more rationally, though, the story is presented in a boring way and without offering any twists. The core element that a mystery thriller of this kind should have is nowhere to be found. This is also due to the tonal inconsistencies, because most of the time "In Love and Deep Water" feels quite carefree and there is never any danger lurking around.
The weak, unfocused script, which seems to revolve around the supporting characters without making them captivating, is particularly disappointing because Yuji Sakamoto won an award at Cannes in 2023 for his screenplay for "Monster". The only positive thing here are the sets and images. Everything looks like you're on a cruise, and the cozy sets actually make you want to go on vacation. That's why it may be all the more annoying for some viewers to waste their time with this thriller. Because even though it may not seem like it at first - there is enough pleasant window dressing -, it gets pretty clear in the end that you didn't get what you had hoped for. And even the romance is too shallow to actually carry the whole movie. "In Love and Deep Water" capsizes long before you really want to believe it. You can definitely use your time more wisely.