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Barefoot in the Sea forum → Recent review I’ve found

Sally Lee:

I have just come across a magazine review of our favourite movie:

“Film Review: Barefoot in the Sea (1960)

Rated PG / Color / 98 minutes

Directed by Norris Stegman

Reviewer: Daniel Bardem

Synopsis: Helen Platt (played by Helena Corrigan) is a quiet reserved English teacher who finally fulfills her dream to spend her summer vacation in a seaside resort. Enjoying the carefree atmosphere and the lovely beach, Helen befriends a fellow traveler Irene Olsen (played by Iris Olsen) who is the opposite of her: wild, passionate and is determined to enjoy all the fun in the world. Irene has opened Helen's eyes to a sensational world that she has never imagined before, but Irene's mystery past may doom them to drown in the ocean that Irene loves so much forever.

I loved the wildly uneven Barefoot in the Sea far more than I should have, but that doesn't mean it is perfect. Ultimately, the compelling lead performance by Helena Corrigan and Iris Olsen swept me through the admittedly uneven pacing and the flimsy plot.

As the director's first debut, Barefoot in the Sea is an ambitious attempt to cross noir in the vein of Talented Mr. Ripley and The Third Man with romance comedies. Helen Platt's primness and quietness would fit perfectly in Summertime, while the ferris wheel shot of Irene and Helen was clearly a tribute to the classic shot in the Third Man. However, at the end of the day Barefoot in the Sea can't decide what it's trying to be. The attention to light and colour in the scenery and the characters' leading shots cannot compensate an ending that leaves a lot of loose ends and ultimately says nothing at all.”

Any thoughts on that?


Ivy Francis:

>Sally Lee wrote:

>Ultimately, the compelling lead performance by Helena Corrigan and Iris Olsen swept me through the admittedly uneven pacing and the flimsy plot.

Daniel Bardem is the type that needs everything to dumb down to him. Anything that doesn’t shout out with a loudspeaker is lost with him.

Barefoot in the Sea is one of the most ambitious film released in the cinema in this decade. At times bizarre and rage inducing, it is nonetheless a masterpiece exploring the danger of selected blindness and naivety.

Irene Olsen is everything Helen Platt wants to be: worldly, fun, intelligent and wins the focus of people’s attention. At the beginning of the movie Helen Platt is making tea in a dim room full of dust. The monotonic music, the abundant use of grey colour and the long camera shot of an empty bird cage sheding shadow on her face showed how static and dull her life is. Even though Helen went to the resort, she stayed in the shade and watched the beach-goers from the rim of her Don Quixote novel. At the scene Helena really convinced us with just her eyes how she longed to but too fearful to really have a life.

Enters Irene.

The camera loves her and she knows it She owns the scene when she walks into our sight. Poor Helena is about to faint when Irene saves her from the guy who harasses her by burning a cigarette into his arm. The way Helena looks up to Irene is just like a devout worshipper to her goddess, and Irene behaves as a mythical guide who leads her into the underworld.

The instrumental music that accompanies Irene is sweet yet sinister, as she introduces Helena into a world that Helena hasn’t even dreamed of: the night clubs, casinos… The scene that Irene dances with Helena against the backdrop of the open ocean is full of emotional impact, because just as Irene said, “You remember my every word. You follow my every steps. You just can’t live without me, can you?” Helena ’s glowing face and body language tells us that she is at the top of her world.

However, just as the joyful and - may I say erotic - dancing scene is abruptly interrupted by the attack of the tide, Helena would soon learn that Irene is as beautiful and dangerous as the ocean.

To be fair, Irene did warn Helena when they had picnic on the beach. “You love the sea because it’s the outside, the unknown, but are you ready to brave the tide and deep current?”

At that time Helena repeated the quote that is said to come from Van Gogh, “The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”

Brave words, but is Helena ready to keep the words?

We soon learn that Irene is tangled in unknown dangerous business, and she may approach Helena to secure a cover to fulfill her goal. Unlike typical thrillers, the director chooses to use inexplicit hint to show us the danger Irene is in. I still think think the scene that Irene finds a cigarette butt in her hotel room when neither women smoke is brilliant.

Helena can choose to return to her safe home. Irene has suggested this to her. The mysterious woman in black also suggested that to her. However, Helena chose to ignore all the warning to chase after Irene and insisted on leaving together. At that moment her fate is cemented as the modern Don Quixote.

At the ending after Irene disappeared into the ocean, Helena walked barefoot into the beach water and sank. Then we saw a glimpse of a woman in Irene’s classical red dress from afar. At the end Helena’s self-delusion only leads to her destruction.

Barefoot on the Beach combines the artistry of the production, the excellent chemistry of both leads and a powerful message into a subtle underrated gem far above the comprehension level of people like Daniel Bardem.


Tina Ruffin:

>However, Helena chose to ignore all the warning to chase after Irene and insisted on leaving together. At that moment her fate is cemented as the modern Don Quixote.

Very eloquent, Ivy, but I think you’re being unfair to Helena. The beach picnic scene is before the car chase scene, and the audience has an advantage to know more than Helena, who’s in the dark for a lot of time.

It’s a pity that the actresses seem to only appear in this film. I wonder what happened to them after the screening of this film. I truly think that they can become big stars like Audrey Hepburn and Jeanne Moreau given a proper chance. Alas it's not to be. Fortunately we still have this film.


”Helena, take a look at this! ” Iris shouted and waved her to the computer.

“What's the matter?” Helena asked as she looked up from her book.

“Someone found photos we took for that movie. Do you still remember it? ”

“After such a long time?” Helena leaned over Iris’s shoulders to stare at the computer screen. “I can hardly recognize myself.”

“Nonsense. If anything you look even better.”

Helena smiled. The photos brought back so much memory: the chilling water she had to endure for the shooting, and their youthful love that didn't even dare to have a name.

She rubbed her finger against her ring. Everything changed, but something did change for the better.

“Why don't we go to the sea tomorrow? The weather’s great this week.”

“As long as you go skinny dipping with me ” Iris said with a wink, her eyes full of the same mischievous spirit as when she stole Helena's heart years ago.

Helena smiled and gave thanks to the movie, which brought her and Iris together. It was her best decision to join the movie.