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STEPHEN'S MOVIE GUIDE

Beyond The Sea  

Review: written 2005

Worthy effort, if a bit heavy going

Kevin Spacey excels in unexpected ways in this worthy Bobby Darin biopic.

Not only did he act and sing in the movie, he also co-wrote, produced and directed it, making it a real labour of love as a long time fan. The story is told as a dialogue between the older Bobby and the younger one, from the age he was told by the doctors he would be lucky to live to the age of 16. Thus, the story arc follows Bobby’s desire to make a difference, first for his mother, and then increasingly for himself.

The cast is first class, with Bob Hoskins, John Goodman, Brenda Blethyn and Greta Scacchi all chewing the scenery as always. However, Kate Bosworth is especially effective as she is transformed into iconic 60s starlet Sandra Dee.

Some might find the plot similar to Hidalgo, but this is simultaneously a simpler affair, being a more straightforward Western, and a richer affair, for having the excellent ensemble cast and a deft script which only runs out of steam somewhere near the end of the movie.

Then comes the direction - it has a fine idea in setting the story as a dialogue between the old and the young Bobby, but it does not always work - in some ways similar to the tricksiness of 'All That Jazz' it has the effect of leaving the viewer at times disoriented. Also, the emphasis in a biopic of such a famous musician was bound to feature music numbers heavily, but they tend to interrupt the flow of the biopic rather than progress it. If you like Darin and his music then you won't be disappointed... As a tribute to Bobby Darin, this will stand the test of time and Spacey has done a terrific job - as a movie for movies sake, it is a flawed but brave effort worth watching.





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