The true story of big band singer Bobby Darin, who had a string of
hits despite being told he would never make it to his 16th birthday.
Beyond the Sea (2004)
Directed by Kevin Spacey
Written by Kevin Spacey and Lewis Colick
Starring Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, John Goodman,
Bob Hoskins, Caroline Aaron, Brenda Blethyn, William Ullrich
I won't argue that Bobby Darin wasn't a talented entertainer. That goes without saying. Did they really need to make a movie about him? I would say no. Beyond the Sea is a passion project of Kevin Spacey's, one that he put a lot of himself into. His dedication shows in his performance, which is nothing short of fantastic. Unfortunately, his performance is one of the only things that keeps this film going. Spacey opted to go in a more surrealist direction with the story of Bobby Darin instead of a traditional biopic format. That would be fine if the film were in the hands of a more accomplished and experienced director.
Bobby Darin was never expected to make it to his sixteenth birthday. As a child, he suffered from rheumatic fever and was told by his family doctor that he was a hopeless case. Darin lived to the age of 37 and become one of the most well-known big bang entertainers of all time, with such hits as "Mack the Knife," "Dream Lover," and of course "Beyond the Sea." Spacey captures Darin's stage presence perfectly and holds the movie together all on his own. While I enjoyed the performances from John Goodman and Bob Hoskins, I found Kate Bosworth unbearable as Darin's wife Sandra Dee. Darin's home life was mostly left out of the film, including his second wife and additional kids. I feel like this is information that should be included when making a film about someone's entire life story.
Beyond the Sea is a decent watch for the good performances and fantastic music, but it seriously lacks in story. Like most biopics, it's one important event after another, but there is very little context and the framing device makes zero sense. We're supposed to be watching a movie about Bobby Darin, but it looks like we're watching a movie about a movie about Bobby Darin. Like I said, it doesn't make sense. I admire Spacey's talent in front of the camera, but I don't feel he has what it takes to deliver behind the camera.