BEYOND THE SEA (2004). Director/Co-Writer: Kevin Spacey.
This biopic of singer-actor Bobby Darin was clearly a labor of love for Kevin Spacey, who not only co-wrote (with Lewis Colick), directed, and starred in the film, but also does all his own singing – and is excellent at it. For much of its length this is a fairly standard show biz biography, although it has a stylized framework of Darin starring in a movie about himself and discussing with the other actors/characters how to proceed [There is even one outdoor production number like something out of a movie musical]. The movie skirts much of his younger life and brings him to Hollywood and the arms of wife Sandra Dee (Kate Bosworth) pretty quickly. It gets even more interesting when we see how he temporarily “dropped out” and then decided to reinvent himself as a folk singer [although one has to wonder if his singing anti-Viet Nam protest songs reflected his true feelings or was only an attempt to generate a new, younger audience for himself]. This could be dismissed as a “vanity production” for Spacey were it not for the fact that he pulls it off, despite being older than Darin was when he died. Bob Hoskins also gives a wonderful performance, as does Caroline Aaron as his mother, Nina [who pretended to be his sister for most of his life] and William Ullrich as Darin as a boy. The songs are well chosen and whatever its deficiencies the film works beautifully on an emotional level.
Verdict: Ol' Maggie's back in town! ***.