Sea of Dreams
2007, PG, 99 min. Directed by José Bojorquez. Starring Sendi Bar, Johnathon Schaech, Sonia Braga, Angélica María, Nicholas Gonzalez, Seymour Cassel.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Sept. 21, 2007
This Mexican feature relies heavily on prehistoric folk myths and a delightful color palette for its impact. It tells the story of Grecia (Bar), a beautiful young woman who is a bride of the sea. Even as a child, the sea's love for her is evident to all, as it saves her from drowning and rewards her village with a bounty of golden fish and black pearls. Everything is idyllic until the sea – a jealous suitor – gobbles to death an innocent young boy who dares to steal a kiss from Grecia. The sea's generous harvest dries up, and Grecia and her mother (Maria) become village pariahs. Eventually, Grecia becomes enamored with Sebastian (Gonzalez), the older brother of the boy who earlier drowned. Although he wants to return her love, he also swore to his mother, Nurka (Braga), that he would have nothing to do with Grecia. Nurka, who makes pigments from the local flowers, is said to possess the "wisdom of the earth," so the clandestine sweethearts are something of a Romeo and Juliet story: lovers from warring clans – the earth and the sea. Enter a photographer (Schaech), who knows nothing of this tortured past and vies for the lovely Grecia's hand. Filmed in the Veracruz area of Mexico, Sea of Dreams has the charming look of a tourist brochure, and the film's color saturation makes one almost believe there is something magical in Nurka's pigments. Unfortunately, the film carries all the narrative heft of a travel guide, as well. Bojorquez's direction (he also co-scripted with David Howard) is awkward and choppy, often eliminating establishing details that might help comprehension and focusing on the colorful over the meaningful. The Mexican Day of the Dead ceremonies are brought to life in a bit of anthropological re-creation. A melange of Spanish accents further hampers this English-language film (Cassel's, as the local lighthouse keeper, is the most egregious), and an insistent music score by Luis Enríquez Bacalov overplays its hand. Sea of Dreams is not likely to make much of a splash.