Sasha (played by Sasha Hails) is a pretty young British woman living in France with her husband and her young daughter, Sioffra. When her husband has to travel from their home Ile d'Yeu to Paris on business, she is hesitant to let a backpacker who wasn't able to secure a spot at the nearby campground to set up her tent on their property. The stranger, Tatiana (Marina De Van, who recently wrote and directed In My Skin), is an odd one but Sasha decides to let her stay in her tent outside on the outskirts of their property – possibly out of kindness, but probably out of sheer boredom.
Soon enough, the pair develop an odd relationship and despite Sasha kind attempts at kindness (she feeds her, allows her to use the washroom), Tatiana continues her unusual and at times abrasive behavior. Things get tense between the two and it all builds towards a truly unusual climax that is both horrifying and unexpected.
See The Sea is an interesting fifty-two minute piece of arthouse horror with some interesting themes and some very nice camerawork. The movie looks great due in no small part to the excellent locations used for the film and the smooth camerawork that captures it all. The performances from the two leads are interesting and succeed in pulling you into the drama further. Sasha Hails does an excellent job of portraying her confusion with not only Tatiana's actions but also her own sexuality, her marriage, and her role as a mother. De Van is equally effective in her role and does a wonderful job of portraying her characters indiscretions and animosity towards her host and what her host has in comparison to her own loss (a vague comment, sure, but I'm trying to avoid spoilers here).
By the time it's all over and done with, we're left with a lot of questions up in the air as to not only the finality of the resolution that the film works towards, but also the motives and ideals of the two leads. We never know if Sasha was happy in her marriage or not. Her husband doesn't appear until the last few minutes of the film and he's a minor character at best. Their relationship is barely explored. Tatiana on the other hand has even more enigmas surrounding her. When she mentions her abortion and smiles one never truly knows why she's smiling – is she covering up her own sadness and regret or is she happy that she aborted her baby? And what of the name scribbled into her notebook that she keeps in the tent? The significance seems to allude to a piece of her past (the only real piece touched on in the film), but again, it's never really made clear.
Overeall, the film doesn't seem to be making much a statement with its implied lesbianism and its shock ending. Instead it seems to be merely observing some strange events without putting them into much of a context. While this makes for an interesting and at times quite poetic film, it also feels just a little bit incomplete.
See The Sea is presented in its original widescreen aspect ratio of 1.66.1 and the transfer is enhanced for anamorphic television sets. Sadly, this effort is a mixed bag. While the image is clear with a nice level of high detail and great color reproduction, there is considerably more print damage present than you'd expect from a movie that is less than ten years old. There are plenty of specks present as well as the odd vertical scratch creeping up from time to time. It's not a bad transfer, it's easy enough to watch, but it is more beat up than I'd have hoped it would be.
We've got a reasonably decent Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono soundtrack in French with nicely translated English subtitles that are easy to read and free of typos. The clarity on the track is just fine and there isn't really much to complain about. It's a basic track to be sure, but it gets the job done without and major issues aside from one or two brief moments where there is a slight bit of audible hiss.
Zeitgeist has thrown together a few decent supplements for this release. First up is a theatrical trailer for Ozen's Water Drops On Burning Rocks. Aside from that, Ozen himself supplies some brief liner notes containing his thoughts on the film and on working with the cast members he used on the project. Provided in text format on the DVD itself are a biography and filmography for Ozen, and an interesting interview with actress Sasha Hails who discusses working with her own baby in the film and how she feels about that decision now as opposed to when the film was being made.
The most significant extra feature though is the inclusion of Francois Ozen's earlier short film, A Summer Dress. Once again, it's in French with English subtitles (as it should be), and the video quality is fine. Essentially, this is a fifteen-minute slice of life piece regarding two gay men on vacation. One of them falls for a girl that they meet, and things get complicated. It's not a particularly deep film, though it tries to come across as one (or at least it would seem to be trying). It raises some interesting issues regarding hetero and homosexuality and how the two may or may not be able to coexist within one person, which is interesting food for though. Aside from that though, it lacks the impact or "bizarro" factor that the main feature has. As a companion to the feature though, it does make for an interesting aside.
Zeitgeist gives See The Sea an acceptable release with some interesting extra features and the film is worth seeing even if it does leaves ask more questions than it answers. See The Sea gets a mild recommendation.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.