directed by François Ozon (1997)
See the Sea is the only film in a while that has left me unsettled and jumping at noises in my apartment. Once you hear the premise, and learn that I am about to vacation on an island, you’ll know why.
A mother is left alone at an island vacation home with her ten month old baby. When a young backpacking woman arrives asking to set up camp in her yard, the mother relents looking for a bit of adult companionship, blind to the stranger’s strangeness. Things get creepy fast but subtly.
Marina de Van is amazing as the wanderer. Rarely do movies offer a villain so realistic and understated and they never cast someone that looks so right too. From her tongue ring, to her vacant stare, from her unkempt clothes, to her only smile in the movie (when she talks of her abortion), she embodies the women you see on true crime documentaries perfectly.
As the mother, Sasha Hails is equally interesting. We sympathize with the loneliness she feels with only an infant as company, (believe me!) but mother of the year she is not. There were so many times I was nervous for the child’s safety, whether left alone on a beach or crying in a bath tub, which only adds to the movie’s overall suspense.
Pretty much the worst thing you can imagine, and you begin worrying and imagining it right away, happens but that the conclusion is expected doesn’t make it any less shocking or the getting there any less tense.
A true gem of understated terror.