Sound of the Sea (2001)

 “Travelers willing to make together the journey of no return.”

Sound of the Sea DVDIn The Sound of the Sea Spanish director Bigas Luna creates a romance, wraps it up with allusions to mythology and produces a marvelous tale of love, passion and revenge. Martina (Leonor Watling) works in her parents’ cafe, listens to rap music and remembers the day a film star visited their small coastal town. Ulises (Jordi Molla), the newly employed literature teacher arrives and rents a room from Martina’s parents. The extremely wealthy Sierra (Eduard Fernandez) courts Martina–a relationship much encouraged by Martina’s parents–but clearly she prefers the more elusive Ulises. Ulises and Martina seem an unlikely pair–she possesses undeveloped strains of materialism, and Ulises is a dreamer and a drifter. But when Ulises quotes favourite passages from the Aeneid to Martina, it seems to satisfy them both–the poetic exercise captures her trapped imagination, and also allows him to impress her. When Martina discovers she’s pregnant, Ulises agrees to marry her. There’s a brief honeymoon, and then the couple are back to domesticity and discontent.

After the birth of their baby, Martina is invited to attend a party at Sierra’s mansion. While Sierra still indicates his interest in Martina, Ulises eyeballs a seductive brunette in a red dress. After a brief squabble, Martina and Ulises abruptly leave the party. The next day Ulises goes fishing and disappears …

Years pass. With Ulises officially dead, Martina marries Sierra. He adopts her son, and Martina lounges next to the pool, flipping through fashion magazines as she lives in the lap of luxury. Total materialism suits Martina somehow–she’s become sleeker, harder, and much more polished. Surrounded by a pet crocodile and matching Alsatians, it seems almost as though Martina finally landed up living the life she really belongs in. And then the phone calls begin. Ulises has returned …

The Sound of the Sea–based on the novel by Manuel Vicent–is another remarkable film from Bigas Luna. It begins as a sticky sweet romance but then morphs into something much darker–much deeper. “From loving to not loving is a road everyone travels”–but have Ulises and Martina traveled that road? The film’s cinematography is simply spectacular–captivating shots of the sea in its many states echo throughout the film and resonate long after the closing credits. In Spanish with English subtitles, the DVD extras include: cast interviews, an interview with the director, and a cast photo gallery. If you enjoy this film, I recommend The Chambermaid on the Titanic also by Bigas Luna.

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Filed under Bigas Luna, Spain

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