Saturday, May 20, 2006

Artificial Flowers

A Movie Review

A long time pet project of director/star Kevin Spacey, Beyond the Sea gives a purposefully non-literal account of the life of singer Bobby Darin. Like a lighter version of All That Jazz its the story of an often narcissistic man that from the first ten minutes is largely grounded in its subjects destined pre-mature death (Darin was only 37 at the time of his passing). While somewhat flamboyant in style the film sets course to follow the now well-worn path of the self-destructive music legend picture. However the events of Bobbys life, particularly those portrayed in the later half of the film, are different enough from the standard storyline as to almost salvage the movie. There is a particularly big twist in Bobby's life story that if I had known it before I had forgotten it, or attributed it to somebody else. It is this twist that really makes the film something different and psychologically interesting.

The performances are all good in the picture, with Spacey's having attracted particular attention because he did all his own singing and dancing (he was in musicals before going into movies). Kate Bosworth acutely does a really good Sandra Dee, capturing the teen queen actresses energy and innocence quite brilliantly in the first half of the film. John Goodman and Bob Hoskins also portray major players in Darins life, with Bob's turn as brother-in-law Charlie Maffia particularly endearing. While the source of Bobbys anxieties is interesting their manifestations are really quite mundane and drawn out, I felt as though a documentary on Darin would communicate most of what I learned in this film without having to sit through scenes such as his writing songs in his trailer or the corny childhood sequences. While a more then watchable picture I would predict that little would come from a second viewing. A craftsman like nobel effort.


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