Thursday, January 13, 2005

Saw the film "Beyond the Sea" tonight.

Another night at the cinema and another film biography. This one, Beyond the Sea follows the life of Walden Robert Cassotto, or as he was known to the world, singer Bobby Darin.

Bobby had severe rheumatic fever as a child and despite being told that he wouldn't live past age 15, through determination and drive became an award winning recording star, nightclub headliner and actor.

Yeah, that sounds like a good synopsis for a film. So,... does it work?
Well.... yes and no.

First the good stuff. Kevin Spacey (who at certain angles really looks a lot like Darin) not only stars as the singer in this film, but he produced it, directed it and sang all the music. It's an obvious love-fest for Spacey and it shows.

Beyond the Sea is a biography about a singer so there are many dance and song numbers in this film. This works when depicting the night club appearances but sometimes often detracts during the every day scenes .

Which brings me to the bad stuff. The story isn't told in a linear fashion. I have no problem with that, but it's hard to tell exactly how it's told. Are we flashbacking? If so, from when? And will we ever get back to the present? The film opens' with Bobby rehearsing a film about the story of his life. He stops singing "Mack the Knife" halfway through saying that he's not sure if this is how he should begin the film.

Next we're whisked back to his childhood days in the Bronx. From there the story twists and turns through his early days as a singer, though often the characters step out of the scene and question how it's being told. Song and dance music numbers pop out at odd times, like when he's trying to romance Sandra Dee during the filming of the film Come September.

My biggest complaint, ironically, is Spacey himself. I know I said earlier that he looks the part, and he does, when he's the older Darin. It's during the younger years that he doesn't look right.
When he meets Sandra Dee he's supposed to be 24, but he looks 44!

A nice supporting cast including John Goodman and Bib Hoskins don't get to do much, though Kate Bosworth looks great as Sandra Dee.

The good intentions of Spacey keep this from becoming a bad film, and a I applaud the interesting story-telling, but this looks a lot like a rental. I give it a "Splish, Splash":

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