Movie Reviews


Beyond the Sea Kevin Spacey as Bobby DarinBeyond the Sea

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, Brenda Blethyn, Bob Hoskins, John Goodman, Caroline Aaron, Greta Scacchi and William Ullrich.
Directed by: Kevin Spacey
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Bluntly speaking? Kevin Spacey, who stars, produced, directed, and even pitched in with the writing of Beyond the Sea, has painted a toe-tapping dreamy swingin' tale of a helluva man upon a celluloid canvas. It's an artful biopic tale (liberties taken) of crooner extraordinaire Bobby Darin.

And Darin has a grand yarn to tell. Though he passed at a relatively young age (37), he already achieved so much; two Grammys, a Golden Globe, an Oscar nod, oodles of television appearances, a library of eclectic music, a laundry list of number one hits, a varied section at Blockbuster, and he found true love. Darin was the American dream personified and Beyond the Sea is a beautiful whirlwind musical homage to his remarkable career and astonishing life.

Story goes…Walden Robert Cassotto (William Ullrich & Kevin Spacey), aka Bobby Darin, grew up in the Bronx, NY. After being stricken with rheumatic fever as a boy, his heart was injured forever. In fact, he over heard that he would be lucky to see his fifteenth birthday.

Hardly able to run about the streets, Walden spent many days in bed and in his home. His mother Polly (Brenda Blethyn) would entertain him with dancing and singing. She quickly saw the special-something in the lad - he could be a grand entertainer himself.

Walden made it past his fifteenth birthday and developed a kind of tunnel vision. All he wanted was to be a performer. Actually, a legendary performer.

With a trusted entourage of friends and family, he moves into the proper career launching part of the city and quickly learns his one-track-mind of perfection is not necessarily how other talents think. For many, being mediocre or having a brief singular career is fine, for Walden it's not an option - he wants it all.

Then he has an epiphany. His name isn't exactly star material - it's long and geeky and has a marina sauce infusion already collared by Sinatra. Legend has it, Bobby glanced up one evening while strolling off Broadway and noted a half lit Chinese food parlor's sign…. it simply said "darin" - and it was perfect. So he'd go with Bobby (more hip - young - now) Darin (non denominational - hip - young - now) and viola, Bobby Darin was born so to speak.

Not one to mince words or wait for people and their mundane idiosyncrasies, Darin got a rep as a kind of steamroller. But, try as they might to despise the man, he was simply oozing talent and charm. Besides Bobby didn't really give a flyin' trombone what folks thought - he didn't have time to.

After he hit the musical charts, Hollywood called and he was off to shoot a bubblegum film with teen idol Sandra Dee (Kate Bosworth). Bobby - at first - figures this little doll could be the mercury he needs to boost his rising star and decides he'll marry her. Now he's just got to get her to agree to his leedle plan…well, her and her overbearing stage mother (Greta Scacchi) - who makes Judy Garland's paternal leech look catatonic.

His life is speeding up and his heart is slowing down. He seems to have it all; true love, money, success - but he wants more.

Kevin Spacey disappears as Darin. It's a delightful emotional duel of sorts - talent does as talent sees. Spacey sings and dances his big handsome heart out for, and as, Bobby - and his passion radiates off the screen like incandescent sparks. No dummy, Spacey addresses the age difference between he and Darin within the first scene…the film is done in that moonbeam-memory area and the film "Darin" is even told he's now "too old to play himself" - very clever. And this is no SNL character impersonation of Bobby Darin - easily an actor's trap as Darin had a multitude of trademark gestures - Spacey takes the cartoon out of it and delivers a solid interpretation of Bob the man behind the legend. And I gotta tell ya, watchin' Kev hoofin' about to these sexy songs makes a gal wanna explore the coat room at the Copacabana with the manly man...undisturbed for a few hours with nothing but a jar of apricot jam 'tween us...purr fst fst.

Kate Bosworth, who looks as though she's spliced DNA with Sandra Dee, gives a nice showing as the all-American gal gone prisoner of Beverly Hills. Her form-fitting outfits by Ruth Myers are to-die-for gorgeous. Damn the mini-waisted of the world!

Young Walden aka "Bobby," played by William Ullrich, is adorable and one should keep an eye out for this lad.

But within all the singin' and dancin' and drama it is Caroline Aaron as Nina, Bobby's…er…sister, which almost steals the film. Nina is sort of a bubbling Bronxian bimbo with a rich loving underbelly and Caroline nails the breadth of this woman's pain. Bravo.

There are a few inevitable tsk tsks folded into the piece…for example, the beginning of the film is a tad convoluted - it confuses briefly. But quick enough we're all on the rock island line full steam ahead. And then there's the yellow suite from hell in Darin's courtship of Dee scene. Um, that little fashion faux pas was utterly distracting - but the genre-rich dance sequence by choreographer Rob Ashford saved the day. Perhaps the under-thought being "Blind them with talent they'll never notice the gargantuan banana zoot suit costuming sent over!" …just a hunch. Meanwhile the exquisite production design by Andrew Laws keeps you properly submerged in Bob's life moments.

Beyond the Sea is an artful interpretation, not a replication, of Darin's life - and it's done with great admiration that will most certainly introduce a new audience to Mr. Bobby Darin and his immeasurable talents. Thank you Mr. Spacey, or should I say, "Grazie per l'esposizione grande!" Bobby Darin finally has his long-over-due toast.

Snack recommendation: A big bowl of Scialatielli Ai Gamberetti with virgin banana Daiquiris.

The Emilyism©






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