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The Ocean of Helena Lee (2015)

PG-13 | | Drama | 8 May 2015 (USA)
Twelve-year-old Helena Lee (debut performance by Moriah Blonna) sleeps in the sandy closet of a one room apartment in an unkempt corner of California's Venice Beach. Her father, charismatic... See full summary »


Jim Akin


Jim Akin

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Credited cast:
Sara Noah ... Charlotte
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Moriah Blonna Moriah Blonna ... Helena
Tom Dunne Tom Dunne ... Mickey
Anne Elisabeth Anne Elisabeth ... Normal Woman
Maria McKee Maria McKee ... Luisa
Michael Q. Schmidt
Nick Zolezzi Nick Zolezzi ... Gordon


Twelve-year-old Helena Lee (debut performance by Moriah Blonna) sleeps in the sandy closet of a one room apartment in an unkempt corner of California's Venice Beach. Her father, charismatic surf-rat Mickey (Tom Dunne), spurs her journey as an aspiring writer with his iconoclastic absurdist view of the world. Helena conducts a season to season pilgrimage in and around the carnival of beach life; observing the bohemian locals, the hopeful tourists, the lost and forgotten who have reached the end of the map. Helena's observations lead to an introspective spiritual and intellectual wanderlust often leaving her standing at the water's edge, facing the void, a head and heart full of unanswerable questions; how shall I to live? why did my mother die? At the cusp of adolescence, her view of what it means to become a woman is torn between the opposing influences of the free spirited strippers who flock around Mickey and the sacred memory of her mother Luisa (singer/songwriter, Maria McKee). ...

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Release Date:

8 May 2015 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Helena of Venice See more »

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User Reviews

Another unique film from an exciting - if not always easy - indie voice
21 July 2016 | by runamokprodsSee all my reviews

I wasn't quite as blown away by this as I was by Akin's amazing debut film "After the Triumph of Your Birth", but I still quite liked it. It stayed with me in the days after I saw it, and I look forward to seeing it again. Akin has a great eye for images, a good touch with actors, a strong ear for music (in collaboration with his wildly talented wife, singer/songwriter Maria McKee), and - most important - a unique voice as a film-maker. We've all seen too many coming-of- age films, but this one feels different, fresh, poetic, oddball and honest enough that it rarely feels like 'we've been here before'.

A very bright 12 year old girl (Moriah Blonna) lives with her charming, often sweet and funny, but also self-involved and self-destructive surf-bum dad (Tom Donne) on the edge of the human sideshow that is Venice beach. The key woman in their lives – his wife, her mother – died 2 years ago, leaving a gaping hole that she's too young to fully grapple with, and he's too damaged to really repair. So he hides behind booze and women, and she prowls the beach and has visions of her mother, in search of answers and meaning, trying to figure out how to grow up without any truly functional parents. But if that sounds depressing, know that the film keeps alive a rueful sense of humor and an off beat sense of poetry - visual and structural - amidst the emotional challenges.

The story is essentially a series of set pieces, and some work better than others. There are moments that feel too self-conscious, or heavy handed. But for every one of those, there are several lovely poetic moments where Akin captures the ephemeral simultaneous wonder and terror of growing up in a crazy, beautiful but difficult world.

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