Movie Review by Neils Hesse
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, John Goodman, Bob Hoskins
Director: Kevin Spacey
‘Somewhere beyond the sea!’ as the famous tune goes and yes this film does have a lot to do with that and other famous tunes such as DREAMLOVER, MACK THE KNIFE and the delightfully slippery ‘Splish Splash I was taking a bath’ all written and sung by the legendary Bobby Darin. Kevin Spacey takes the reins here as both director and leading man in this part fantasy, part reality biopic. It traces his humble beginnings in the Bronx where he is diagnosed with a fatal heart condition that is supposed to end his life by the age of 15 but with the drive and inspiration of his mother he pursues a musical career and against all the odds survives much longer than expected to become almost if not just as great as Old Blue Eyes Sinatra. This film explores his turbulent yet loving marriage to another idol of the time Sandra Dee played perfectly by Kate Bosworth, his relationship with his family and of course his love affair with music.
The most extraordinary thing about this film is the note perfect singing performance by Kevin Spacey which took him four years of relentless practice to get right and boy does he pull it off. His renditions of MACK THE KNIFE and BEYOND THE SEA particularly stand out and are much better than many pop idol enhanced acts today. His performance overall is very good as is his leading lady’s. Kate Bosworth projects the frailty and troubled innocence of the still living Sandra Dee in a very understated yet passionate manner. Supporting acts from Brenda Blethyn, Bob Hoskins, John Goodman and newcomer William Ulrich as the young Bobby are all good.
It all sounds good so far and it is but the alternative approach to the telling of this story by switching the narrative from reality to fantasy ultimately ruins it as it undervalues the dramatic aspects of Darin’s struggle and so it would have probably been more effective had it been a straight drama. For Spacey and Darin fans there are great songs and performances but other than that it is all just disappointingly average.
Definitely one of those films that you can wait to see on TV.