The Gazette

Kevin Spacey swings and sings as Bobby Darin in Beyond The Sea Megan Leach Canadian Press September 11, 2004

TORONTO (CP) – The final frames of Beyond The Sea tell the audience, “Bobby Darin is still swinging.”

Not only does the spirit of Darin swing in the film, but so does Kevin Spacey, who wears the many hats of director, producer, actor, singer and dancer to portray the legendary crooner.

The dreamlike, film-within-a-film had it’s world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday, as hundreds of fans lined the streets outside Roy Thompson Hall for a glimpse of the movie’s stars as they arrived on the red carpet.

“It’s very exciting, very nerve wracking,” said Spacey, 45, of the screams, cheers and camera flashes that surrounded his arrival at the glittering event.

“I’m thrilled that we’re finally getting a chance to show this movie and share it.”

The biopic covers the life and career of Darin, who was born Walden Robert Cassotto in 1936. A bout of rheumatic fever as a child left him with a weakened heart that plagued him throughout his life, until his death after his second open heart surgery in 1973.

During his brief 37 years, Darin recorded numerous memorable songs, including Splish Splash, Dream Lover, and Mack The Knife. All of those songs and more are performed on screen by Spacey himself.

Spacey said he hopes the film will bring Darin’s music to a new audience.

“It will hopefully give Bobby Darin the recognition that he was denied because he died so young,” he said.

As Darin, Spacey embodies cool at a time when cool meant smooth and classic, not mass-produced popularity. Beyond The Sea evokes a time when cool was found in the wink of an eye or the snap of a finger.

Spacey has created a lush film of colourful, vibrant production numbers. His supporting cast includes John Goodman as Darin’s longtime manager Steve Blauner, and Academy Award nominees Brenda Blethyn and Bob Hoskins.

Hoskins had high praise for the film festival.

“I think Toronto probably is going to end up the best film festival in the world,” said Hoskins, 61. “It’s very well run. It’s great to be here. There’s a lot of energy here.”

Making his big screen debut as little Bobby is the young William Ullrich. Kate Bosworth, last seen in Win A Date With Tad Hamilton, plays Darin’s wife, the early-1960s icon Sandra Dee.

At one point in the movie, Darin tells Dee her acting ability doesn’t compare to that of Audrey Hepburn, but Bosworth herself seemed to be taking style cues from Hepburn’s favourite designer. Bosworth wore a white and gold Givenchy dress with a strapless, fitted bodice and matching gold shoes.

Beyond The Sea could easily have been titled Dream Lover, after another of Darin’s hits. Spacey’s unique storytelling moves between the present and flashbacks, reality and television, reality and film, and reality and dream sequence.

“I’d like the public to also love this film,” said the actor. “But for me, in a way I’ve faced the biggest critics I could have faced.”

Spacey said Blauner, Dee and her son with Darin, Dodd, have embraced the film and are overjoyed with the result.

Darin didn’t achieve his Oscar dreams, but perhaps Spacey will for his interpretation of the man’s life and career.

Beyond The Sea opens in theatres Nov. 24.

© The Canadian Press 2004