Sarah Irving

I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic

The Sea (the film, that is…)

Went to see The Sea this evening, screening as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. It turned out to be the World Premiere of the movie, which meant a Q&A afterwards with director Stephen Brown and author and screenwriter John Banville.

I think I was meant to be excited by that. After watching the film, however, seeing two middle-aged, middle-class white men up on stage just reinforced, in a truly concrete fashion, all the irritations I’d already developed during the showing.

I had high hopes of this film. For some reason the blurb and the catalogue image inspired an impression that there would be lots of wild, lonely, windswept views and brooding. I think I need those things at the moment and was wishing for a little vicarious version. So…

It’s a beautiful-looking film. The Irish Sea, in particular, is gorgeous and is as good as any of the actors at shifting tone and mood. There’s a stellar cast, headed by Ciaran Hinds and also featuring Sinead Cusack and Charlotte Rampling, as well as a convincingly annoying Rufus Sewell. They all do a great job.

But… but… in the end, this was yet another film about a middle-aged, middle-class white man having a life crisis and healing the wounds of childhood traumas. The role of the women in the film was to be lusted after (with related emotions of jealousy etc), or to die, and thus provide something to mourn over and precipitate the aforementioned crisis. Do we really need yet another such book/film/play?

To top it off, Hinds’ character is – I kid you not – a writer. If actual writers spent as much of their time having life crises and drinking themselves into oblivion as the writers in novels (by middle-aged, middle-class white men…) seem to do, there would be an awful lot fewer novels about…. need I say it again?


The sea was pretty, though. Or did I already mention that?

And for anyone wanting a great novel about wild, lonely, windswept places AND writers, but only partly about middle-aged/middle-class/white/het men and which actually concedes that people who don’t fit that description can write too, try Everything You Need, by AL Kennedy. It’s a slow-burner, but well worth the patience.

One comment on “The Sea (the film, that is…)

  1. manchesterflickchick
    June 24, 2013

    Great review! The best film I’ve seen about a white middle class men having a mid-life crisis is American Beauty. That might be because we get to see his family’s angst and includes the friction in the neighbouring family as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: