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A new literature teacher, Ulises, comes to a small town near the sea and falls in love with a young woman, Martina. This woman is loved by a rich businessman named Alberto but chooses Ulises. Soon after their marriage and the birth of their son, Ulises vanishes while fishing at sea. In the meanwhile Martina marries Alberto, but all is not what it seems... Written by
Bigas Luna is a Spanish director who has his own style (Jamón, jamón, Huevos de oro, Bámbola, Lumière et compagnie, La Femme de chambre du Titanic, etc) and his method of storytelling takes some adjustment on the part of the viewer. For those who treasure the magical mysteries of Latin dramas this film SON DE MAR (Sound of the Sea) will surely satisfy. Keeping with the title he has chosen (from Rafael Azcona's screenplay based on Manuel Vicent's novel) the presence of the complex sounds of water are ever present and the carriage that escorts the lovers to their ultimate destiny is a boat of the same name. It works.
Ulises (Jordi Mollà) is a teacher brought in midterm to a little town's school. His obsession (and teaching assignment) is Virgil's Aeneid, and he constantly reads it, quotes it, coaxes his students to read aloud the poetry therein, and when he finds an apartment belonging to a couple whose daughter Martina (Leonor Watling) falls under Ulises spell, Ulises quotes from the book scenes involving serpents from the sea, words that make the young and very beautiful Martina awaken sexually. In rapid sequence they become pregnant and marry - though Martina's parents prefer the young wealthy Sierra (Eduard Fernández) as a suitable husband.
Soon after their baby son is born the couple attend a party at Sierra's estate and Ulises eyes a beautiful woman while Sierra attempts to win Martina's heart. Ulises buys a fishing boat and sets out to fish for Martina but the boat is wrecked and thinking Ulises dead, a Requiem mass is held and Martina in time marries Sierra for his ability to provide for her infant son. Five years pass and the now steely Martina lives in luxury and receives a phone call from - Ulises! First enraged that Ulises left her for five years, Martina is quickly wooed to the strains of poetry from the Aeneid and hides Ulises in the top floor of one of Sierra's new buildings. Sierra discovers the reunited lovers' tryst and plans for their end. The lovers escape - to a destiny foretold by phrases from the Aeneid.
Despite his greasy long hair and scruffy beard Jordi Mollà delivers a smoldering presence as Ulises. But it is the presence of Leonor Watling's Martina that makes this at times shaky film work. She is a powerhouse presence. The photography by José Luis Alcaine and the sensuous musical score by Glen Johnson enhance Bigas Luna's concept for the film. It is another satisfying work by a unique director who knows how to mold a story with fleshy means and make it work. In Spanish with English subtitles. Grady Harp
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