The Sea (2002)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Family Drama, Reunion Films  |   Release Date - May 16, 2003 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 110 min.  |   Countries - Norway   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Baltasar Kormákur's follow-up to his jaunty debut feature, 101 Reykjavik, is a shrill family drama that fails to live up to its young director's promise. Set in a small fishing village that seems to be on the threshold of obsolescence, The Sea brings together the unhappy members of an aging patriarch's family for a tumultuous reunion. The father (Gunnar Eyjólfsson) announces his intention to retire, but now has to decide what to do with the fishing business that he's run all his life. The premise of a father dividing his kingdom among his brood recalls +King Lear, but a more recent and obvious antecedent is Thomas Vinterberg's The Celebration, with its Scandinavian gloom, intimations of incest, and sins-of-the-father subtext. Although the histrionics fail to convince, the movie manages to be interesting for its vivid portrait of an increasingly globalized world. Even as Asian immigrants stand alongside village locals on the assembly line, the fishing mogul struggles to keep his business in the community amid the competitive pressures of a global economy -- a conflict that proves more compelling than the family shoutfests. Kormákur brightens up the movie with oddball touches that recall 101 Reykjavik's quirks, such as a wandering ram that keeps the bored police occupied and a potty-mouthed grandma (Herdís Thorvaldsdóttir) who supplies much of the film's humor. Such flourishes are few and far between, however. A lugubrious and trite work from a promising filmmaker, The Sea is ultimately a disappointment, one that hopefully represents only an early misstep in a long and successful career.