Monday, November 28, 2011

[DVD] The Sea is All I Know (2011)


It isn't easy dealing with a medical death sentence passed, with a terminal illness diagnosed that not only brings about the sheer horror in a countdown to the day one passes on, but to one's family that this period of suffering will inevitably be extended to. I should know, because personally my family too has come to terms with my dad's condition which has been diagnosed as MSA, and it just pains all of us to witness physical deterioration despite having an active mind, and while we try to keep his spirits up almost all of the time, there's always this looming sense of dread on the horizon that will creep up occasionally, sometimes to my dad himself even when he thinks of morbid thoughts, and we have to rely on one another to keep that out of our minds when it does.

Melissa Leo, better known now for her acclaimed, trash-talking role in The Fighter, plays Sara, a woman whose daughter Angelina (Kelly Hutchinson) is at home to live out the final days of her life, bedridden most of the time and having to suffer immense, periodic pain that it just breaks her heart to see her baby suffering. Sara's estranged husband Sonny (Peter Gerety) also drops in despite the bitter hatred that exists between husband and wife, who so far have Angelina as their relationship bridge and common ground, now threatened to be long gone, and with that destroying slivers of hope for reconciliation. Or so they thought.

Like the Chinese saying about how cruel it is to have aged old parents bury their child, writer-director Jordan Bayne's emotional story deals with the potential of that premise, as the film centers on each of the character's reaction to what's inevitably coming up, and how they deal with the tremendous heaviness in their hearts, going to the extent of renouncing religion even, which the best amongst us might also be tempted to do, and both Melissa Leo and Peter Gerety brought this out in very affecting terms through the use of subtle nuances to showcase why they are just about amongst the best in the business, with the theme of suffering effectively touched upon in this short film.

Bayne delivered a film that is full of quiet dignity in highlighting how a family reacts to a situation that is far beyond their control, and very human in the way the family gets portrayed, from denial to blame pushing and eventual coming to terms in its shocking, tragic yet powerful finale that accentuates the level of grief felt by everyone. Throughout the film Bayne does enough to hook you into the family's plight as you begin to share their emotions felt, especially through Leo and Gerety's fleshing of their characters. It is a beautiful film in terms of aesthetics as well, and I absolutely love how scenes get contrasted in the film, especially with that involving the vast outdoors of the sea versus the constricted, confined room that Angelina has to live in, with her freedom clipped prematurely.

Rarely does so much emotions get packed into a short film, but Jordan Bayne showed her experience in crafting one that is as layered as it can get, discussing multiple themes and allowing them to resonate effectively with an audience, together with a wonderful cast who gave their collaborative best for the film rather than try to upstage one another. Recommended!

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