October 5, 2011 at 7:44am
MELISSA LEO & PETER GERETY IN THE SEA IS ALL I KNOW >>>
I feel your fear. The Tacoma Film Festival starts Thursday, Oct. 6, and it scares you. You think, "So many movies, and not one recognizable face in any of them." The star is our buoy, our anchor in a confusing sea of anonymity. An A-Lister's presence, just their reassuring smile, can sometimes carry us through even the most excruciating picture.
But if you think TFF lacks any celeb cred, think again. Tucked away in Saturday's Drama Shorts package (4:15 p.m., Grand Cinema) lies The Sea Is All I Know, which boasts not one but two of those Hollywood folks you may know. Melissa Leo most notably won the Best Actress Oscar earlier this year for her work in The Fighter, and character actor Peter Gerety has, over three decades, appeared in numerous TV shows and movies. (I personally relished his world-weary police captain in Inside Man.)
Known for his supporting roles, Gerety finds himself front and center in The Sea, playing Sonny, a New England fisherman married to Sara (Leo). They have a terminally-ill daughter, Angelina (Kelly Hutchinson), who asks Mom and Dad to help her in performing euthanasia. Together and in private these parents agonize over their final decision, wavering unsteadily between mercy and what Sonny calls "natural law."
Right away the script calls out to Gerety's roots. Says the Providence native, "I grew up near the ocean, and I just loved the idea of being in that kind of fishing environment."
Of The Sea's many tender moments, one has Sonny crooning an old-fashioned ditty to his daughter. Carried by Gerety's beautiful voice, the tune feels ancient, so it surprised me to learn writer-director Jordan Bayne also wrote the lyrics, and Gerety's nephew, Timothy Hill, composed its music.
Gerety also connected to his character's Catholicism and the religious iconography that abounds in the film. Raised in the faith, Gerety says, "It was not hard for me to tap into Sonny's feeling of fear (towards assisted suicide)." While mainstream cinema typically depicts the devout as dolts or demons in disguise, Bayne just shows us two confused people grappling with their beliefs while trying to ease a child's suffering.
Bayne's work has graced our community before; her earlier short, Argo, screened at the 2006 Tacoma Film Festival. Bayne seems to like placing weak and emotionally frail humans inside an epic, primal landscape, with The Sea replacing Argo's endless deserts with mysterious waters.Bayne says the idea for The Sea came partly from observing relatives' various reactions to her grandmother's passing. She recalls their behavior as "very selfish, loving ... it was all over the spectrum."
With Bayne's subtle, assured direction and powerful performances from Leo and Gerety, you won't want to turn your back on The Sea.
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