The Sea


Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

"For all its visual skill and mostly good performances, this is a tiresome, dull film."

Max (Ciaran Hinds) is a recently bereaved borderline-alcoholic art scholar who is revisiting the seaside village where he spent his summers as a boy. The reasons are initially unexplained, but become clear. He rents a room in a house - the same house where the young Max befriended a wealthy family.

The film is a dual narrative, of the middle-aged Max and his youthful memories. Early on, it promises revelations. It uses some effective cross-cutting - letting Max's residual memories seep into the current day narrative. The house is full of these memories, with frequent slips of old Max reliving his past.

Copy picture

The film divines a decent visual strategy: Max's teenage memories are full of golden colours with his burgeoning sexuality coming to the fore; the present is leaden, gloomy and dark, driven by guilt whose true nature is only revealed near the end.

For all its visual skill and mostly good performances, this is a tiresome, dull film. The narrative is achingly and pointlessly still. Screenwriter John Banville adapts his own award-winning novel but seems to forget that internal conflict is hard to adapt to the cinema, leading to mystifying leaps of character - and ultimately, we simply aren't invited to care. The film is all set-up and the pay-off is thin. "The past is the past. You can't go back to it." It was hardly worth telling.

Not even a cheerfully plummy Rufus Sewell as the wealthy and philandering father makes it worth watching.

Reviewed on: 23 Jun 2013
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An art historian explores haunting memories in the village he visited as a child.

Director: Stephen Brown

Writer: John Banville

Starring: Ciarán Hinds, Charlotte Rampling, Natascha McElhone, Rufus Sewell, Bonnie Wright, Sinéad Cusack

Year: 2013

Runtime: 87 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision


EIFF 2013

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