Beyond the Sea Reviews
Why is this movie scorned? Perhaps it's because at the ripe age of forty-five Keven Spacey has the audacity to portray Bobby Darin at age twenty-five. Also, the fantasy scenes of a ten-year-old Darin having philosophical discussions with the adult Darin probably gives the willies to fans who are only watching the movie to catch the faithful recreations of their beloved "Splish Splash" and "Mack the Knife."
Even though "Beyond the Sea" breaks new ground for biopics, it is largely ignored. The only earlier biopic I can think of that matches its daring is "All That Jazz" (1979) in which Bob Fosse unflinchingly examines his own career, personal life, and health issues. Three films that owe a debt to "Beyond the Sea" are the guitar-player documentary "It Might Get Loud" (Jack White shares scenes with a young boy dressed in clothes identical to his but gives no explanation of who the boy is and why he's there), "I'm Not There" (many actors of varying age, race, and gender portray Bob Dylan), and "Love and Mercy" (two very different actors play Brian Wilson at various stages of his life.)
Bobby Darin crammed several lifetimes into his brief thirty-seven years. He was a rock-and-roller ("Splish Splash.) He was a jazz-swinger ("Beyond the Sea.") He was a folk singer ("If I Were a Carpenter.") He was a funk-folk-rocker ("Long Line Rider.") Kevin Spacey flawlessly re-creates all these self-reinventions of Darin. And did I say that Spacey has a great voice? If not for this acting thing, Kevin Spacey could have had a music career.
If you believe "Walk the Line," "Ray," "Get On Up," "Miles Ahead," "Born to Be Blue," "The Doors," "The Runaways," and "Lady Sings the Blues" are all the same story, join the club. That's why you must give a chance to "Beyond the Sea." It's refreshing. I defy anyone to watch this film and not have at least a fleeting fantasy of what it must be like to own a Vegas stage ... all decked out in your slicked hair and tailored tux, snappin' your fingers to the big band while your voice nails every note dead-on.
There was only one Bobby Darin. And Kevin Spacey lets us see him anew.
Bobby Darin is not a man that I'm familiar with, so I can't know for sure precisely how valid the story told in Beyond the Sea is. It is clear that Kevin Spacey has chosen to take many creative liberties with the story so that it can be more interesting and fit into an interesting style of filmmaking. Beyond the Sea was an enjoyable experience for me because there was a lot of energy in its story. While Bobby Darin had an interesting life, it didn't seem like in the story he had too much that made him more exciting than many other musicians that have had biopics. Kevin Spacey is able to transcend that by injecting a certain style into the film which made it stand out from traditional biopics in the way that it refuses to adhere to the standard plot structure that so many other films do. While the story in Beyond the Sea doesn't always answer every question about Bobby Darin and a lot of its dramatic plot dynamics are rather misplaced and seem to have been randomly thrown in there at times which detract from the general mood of the film into a melodramatic state, the fact is that I found Beyond the Sea did a good enough job illuminating the life of Bobby Darin.
Like most biopics, Beyond the Sea was not a perfect one and it left a lot of points in Bobby Darin's life absent. It skipped through a lot to emphasize his career while famous which left out many aspects of what built him as a person. The energy in the film managed to suck me in enough ot distract me from this, but it means that Beyond the Sea only comes off as a bit of a half-valid biopic. Beyond the Sea does illuminate the life of Bobby Darin, but it does not tell the full story. A lot of what Bobby Darin goes through is rather cliche, although I can't criticize him for living a lifestyle which many others have. And you can tell that Kevin Spacey makes an effort to get around the cliche elements of the film by constantly moving through them at a quick pace and using a strong visual style to do it, so his direction is ambitious. In the end, Beyond the Sea is mostly able to overcome a lot of its narrative faults with style and energy, but there is no denying that the storytelling in Beyond the Sea is faulty and one of its most predominant downfalls. For me, I got sucked into the charm of the energetic atmosphere in Beyond the Sea so easily that its story faults did not damage the film enough for me to call it a bad experience, but as the film is a biopic of a very popular musician, its narrative flaws would make it unsatisfying to the best of Bobby Darin's fans.
Still, like I said, the style of the film is excellent. As well as capturing the timeframe of Bobby Darin's life with eye to production design and costume, Beyond the Sea has a lot of strong cinematography which captures the scenery and the design of everything very nicely. But more importantly, the magic in the film comes from the quality of its musical sequences. With a talented cast of singers lined up and some strong composers used to establish the musical numbers, Beyond the Sea ends up being a stylish affair with a lot of passionate energy in its atmosphere, and so the general spirit of Bobby Darin's musical magic is easy to feel if the viewer can overlook the many narrative faults.
Kevin Spacey helms the role of writer, director and producer of Beyond the Sea, but none of his talents match up to what he presents to the lead role of Bobby Darin as the star of the show.
Kevin Spacey shines in the leading role in Beyond the Sea. Despite the fact that Kevin Spacey was quite older than Bobby Darin while portraying him, it never really bothered me because I found that Kevin Spacey was so easily charismatic in the part and that he looked it convincingly enough for it to. Kevin Spacey is a brilliant actor, and in Beyond the Sea he directs himself to a winning performance because he puts a lot of energetic spirit into Bobby Darin. And while the film does not perfectly capture the edge of his life and tell the entire story due to a script which has a lot of holes in its narrative, Kevin Spacey does what he can with the part and manages to turn in an incredible and very spirited performance. Kevin Spacey's performance in Beyond the Sea is great for a number of reasons, with one of them being that he used his own singing voice excellently with articulation that was so beautifully detailed that it filled the air with spirit, and when it came to the acting, it is no surprise just how excellent Kevin Spacey is. Kevin Spacey is perfectly suave in the role of Bobby Darin and speaks his words with a level of sophistication and confidence which remains consistent throughout the 118 minute running time of the film. Kevin Spacey is perfectly dramatic in Beyond the Sea and has a lot of energetic charisma which ties into the atmosphere well, and his acting abilities combined with his singing voice make Bobby Darin one of the roles that he was born to have played.
Beyond the Sea doesn't do the most excellent job of conveying the role that Sandra Dee played in Bobby Darin's life as she is present for a while and gone in the blink of an eye, but Kate Bosworth does a decent job in the role. Her chemistry with Kevin Spacey is great because there is a real feel of romantic tension between them, and she does look the part well enough. It isn't the best, partly because Sandra Dee is played off as a subplot in the life of Bobby Darin, but she does a decent job in the part and does manage to pour a good amount of dramatic charisma into the role.
Bob Hoskins is a strong supporting figure in Beyond the Sea, and his friendly chemistry with Kevin Spacey renders him a genial presence. John Goodman also does a nice job, as does Brenda Blethyn who lays down a spirit along the lines of Susan Sarandon in her part.
So despite not being the most accurate biopic due to a lot of narrative faults, Kevin Spacey's electric passion for stylish direction and exceptional lead performance makes Beyond the Sea an all new look at his filmmaking talents as well as a somewhat entertaining portrayal in the life of Bobby Darin.