Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Short Film Spotlight: The Sea Is All I Know
Posted by Courtney Small
There are many things in life that are tough to deal with. As a parent one of those things is the potential to outlive your child. Director Jordan Bayne explores this, and how illness in general can both tear a family apart and unite them, in her film The Sea Is All I Know.
Against the doctor’s advice of treating her terminally ill daughter Angelina (Kelly Hutchinson) in a hospital, Sara (Melissa Leo) decides to bring Angelina home to care for her there. Angelina’s arrival at home leads to the reemergence of her father, and Sara’s estranged husband, Sonny (Peter Gerety). When Angelina asks her parents to assist her in committing suicide, Sara and Sonny are forced to question how far they are willing to go for a loved one.
Although The Sea Is All I Know touches on the issue of euthanasia, Bayne does not take a stance on the topic. Instead the film turns its attention to the emotional strain that Sara and Sonny endure as a result. Despite unresolved issues in their marriage, together they must come to terms with questions they have about faith. Sonny, a fisherman, sees life in simple terms. He views working hard and taking care of family as the key to living a good life. He finds it extremely hard to understand why his family has been placed in this situation. Even Sara, who has a deeper grasp of faith than Sonny, starts to question her spiritual duties versus her duties as a parent.
In one fantastic scene, Sara talks about her daughter’s illness in regards to God’s request for a sacrifice. It is a powerful moment that not only causes the audience to ponder their own beliefs in relation to the unexplainable tragedies in this world, but it also showcases the wonderful performances in this film. Melissa Leo has made a career of portraying characters dealing with hardship, so it would have been easy for her to “phone in” this performance. However, Leo raises her game by providing an honest and gripping look at the anguish that Sara is feeling.
Though Melissa Leo’s name will bring many to The Sea Is All I Know, it should be noted that Peter Gerety is exceptional in the role of Sonny. Gerety hits every emotional beat needed to make Sonny a relatable character. Through his strong chemistry with Leo, Gerety helps to make The Sea Is All I Know not just a tale of illness, but one of a couple being united as a result of it. If there is one minor knock against the film it is that there is not enough time to truly get to know the character of Angelina. Leo and Gerety dominate the film so much that Hutchinson’s performance, which is strong in its own right, often gets overshadowed. Filled with great performances, and featuring an emotional punch that cannot be ignored, The Sea is All I Know is a short film that leaves a lasting impression.