Directed by Kevin Spacey, starring Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, John Goodman, Bob Hoskins, Brenda Blethyn, Greta Scacchi, Peter Cincotti and William Ullrich.

Kevin Spacey directs, produces and stars in this lukewarm biopic of Bobby Darin. For those unfamiliar with the name, his most famous songs include 'Splish Splash', 'Mack the Knife', and, as the title suggests, 'Beyond the Sea'.

Darin (Spacey), born Walden Robert Cassotto in New York's Bronx, had a heart damaged by rheumatic fever as a boy and was not expected to see his 15th birthday. However, inspired by his mother Polly (Blethyn) and his love of music, he went on to have an extremely successful career both singing on stage and starring on screen.

Unfortunately, his passion and arrogance were often overbearing, and his enthusiasm for working, and touring in particular, drove a wedge between himself and those closest to him, especially his wife Sandra Dee (Bosworth).

Spacey charts the many highs and lows of Darin's life and career, which had just about enough drama to fill this film. That's about it, though. The movie is enjoyable and the music and dance numbers are excellently performed, if a little too commonplace.

This is clearly a labour of love for Spacey, and he is ideal (in the latter stages) as the charming eccentric. The current Artistic Director at London's Old Vic theatre is in his element as the film progresses and he shines as an ageing Darin. Conversely, in the earlier stages when he is supposed to be in his twenties, Spacey, try as he might, just doesn't pull it off. Sometimes a movie is so good that you don't notice the disparity in age between character and actor, or even if you do, it doesn't taint your view. The fact that it does here speaks volumes.

Another unnecessary feature is when Darin speaks to himself as a kid (Young Bobby, performed by Ullrich). What this device is meant to achieve is not clear, and it only serves to disrupt the flow of the story. Maybe that was the only way they could find to work the little guy into the final dance scene. We'll never know, or care. 

Séamus Leonard