By admin | May 18, 2000

Director Tony Pemberton, who moved to Russia to make “Beyond the Ocean,” didn’t exactly win over his Dallas audience with a distasteful Kennedy comment in his pre-screening remarks. Unfortunately, his wildly uneven, at times nearly inaccessible bi-continental relationship pic “Beyond the Ocean” didn’t make it any easier for that same audience to warm up any. Pitsee (Dasha Volga), pregnant with her American boyfriend Alex’ child, has arrived in New York from Russia to find him. When she finally manages to track him down, she finds that he’s seeing someone else. Caught off guard, Alex puts her up with his friend, a hip and hyper club DJ who immediately becomes smitten with her. Unbeknownst to both the jealous-when-convenient Alex and his lonely friend, however, the Russian beauty has led an eventful life inside the former Soviet Union. Neglected by her mother and tormented by a sexual predator of an uncle and a crazed aunt, Pitsee must come to terms with the traumatic life her younger self (played by Tatiana Kamina in Russia) endured in the motherland. Pemberton struggles mightily to mix and match a traditional narrative storyline with sequences having a more European feel, but the two never quite blend here. Whereas Pitsee’s Russian backstory, beautifully photographed in black and white, provides plenty of weird queasiness, her experiences there never seem to relate to the fairly straightforward, if intriguing romantic triangle going on in New York. Pemberton further compounds this problem by having his film come to an abrupt, wholly unsatisfying end without really resolving anything. This isn’t much of a reward for those patient viewers who’ve made a conscious effort to pull all these disparate pieces together. One diamond in this Russian rough is Volga. A pretty, wide-eyed innocent, she plays Pitsee with the perfect amount of vulnerability for a non-English speaking pregnant woman stranded in New York City. Neither her performance nor the striking photography can save this uneasy mishmash of styles and genres, however. As a result, “Beyond the Ocean” ultimately sinks beneath the waves of the Caspian Sea.

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