"60% of all human activity is completely meaningless." Now there's a statistic I can certainly believe for once. At least to a degree - although it seems a bit low. Okay, I have to admit, I love this film from writer/director Adam Assad. This man has been paying serious attention to sociology, political discourse, and the weight that the past several years have placed on the ordinary everyday people in the working class. You'll meet Josh early on, a gig economy worker, who spends far too much time in traffic driving people or their food around, and before long, he's got himself a van filled with folks on a rideshare. For some, this would be the ride from hell – for others like myself, I'd completely be stoked to be in on an adventure like this - where people are speaking their minds and trying to understand the point of view from folks on the other side of the aisle. As Josh mentions towards the beginning, you never really know what's going on in a person's life, and equally true is the fact that we hardly ever know what they've been through in order to make them the people they become.
For instance – you could be the old racist and seemingly bigoted white guy in the back of the van named Bruce, who has seen the lives of his loved ones basically shattered - and opportunities dry up around him. Would he have been the same person if his path had gone a completely different direction long ago? It doesn't excuse his attitude, but it does help you understand his point of view. In their own way, everyone is struggling – and the racially diverse cast in this film has you appreciating that from multiple perspectives and points of view in a film that seems to be completely unafraid to say what so many movies would never dare to. We're talking about REAL dialogue…the kind of talks people used to have long before we all became so afraid of each other. If conversations were actually like this instead of just about the weather all the time, I'd actually have 'em.
The addition of Daniel into the van gives this rideshare situation a much more ominous tone, though it still at least seems like they're all getting along as they hit up a taco truck together to have some lunch. It's also great to see the divide between a character like Greg and Daniel, who are essentially polar opposites when it comes down to it. Bruce and Marcus see themselves on totally opposite sides of the spectrum too, which is brilliantly shown to us onscreen. Each of these characters tries their level best to explain their position, who they are, how they think, and what their perspective is based on – and what "The Sea Was Never Blue" does perfectly is reveal how hard these things are to actually get across. Even when things make sense & common ground is established, like respect for military service, for example, it only seems to complicate things further because knowing that they have something in common makes it harder to understand why we wouldn't have everything in common – make sense? While Josh's therapist (played by Eric Roberts) likes to blame his cynicism for holding him back, we can't help but feel like we know why and where he's coming from based on the blue-collar struggles we see.
Assad was really smart about the way he chose his film to move. As we pick up and drop off passengers and keep this van stuffed to the brim, the dialogue and conversations change as the people do inside this rideshare situation. Veronica, for instance, gives us incredible perspective into what life is like on the inside of the super beautiful, which comes out most through us having to wonder about whether or not Daniel is some incel. Despite everyone's inherent flaws – Assad is again brilliant about how he proves that we ALL have them – each of these characters ends up making points you'll agree with, even if you feel like you don't identify with them for the most part. And that's what makes us 40% meaningful, even if the other 60% is meaningless, right? About fifty minutes or so in, you'll find one of the most surprising switches in direction - when Assad moves the entire location of the movie into an after-party that is filled with the folks we've seen in the van earlier in the day. It's a testament to how much we want to be together, or at least not alone, despite how different we might appear to be. Like – watch how Marcus and Daniel end up agreeing on how the current political division was being bolstered by overreactions – the insight is staggeringly accurate. Or how about Greg's remarkable admission towards the end, which seems to make him so much more similar to Daniel than you'd ever expected? This is what life is – we are everyone and no one. "The Sea Was Never Blue" was a completely fantastic film with an exceptional cast from top to bottom…and I think what I loved about it the most was that I never really felt like it confirmed anything can change - more than it seemed to prove we're damned to continue the cycle of madness of misinformation and misunderstanding. Josh's speech at the end gives you the most endearing message and moment of hope – but even as he's talking, you'll still wonder whether there's anything that anyone can say that'll ever make a real difference. "The Sea Was Never Blue" is one of the most remarkable reflections of life that I've seen in quite some time, with the courage required to say ALL of the quiet parts out loud for once, and it's as inspired as it is refreshing.
We're capable of caring for strangers and doing incredible things for each other if we listen to what people have to say & empathize with their unique situations. The ending of this movie will confirm how crucial it is that we do our very best to try - before it's too late & we're past the point of no return. You could teach philosophy classes about what this movie is saying or write your university thesis based on what you see. It's probably a touch too long with the scenes that come after the toast from Marcus, but at the same time, it does wrap up a few loose ends regarding the timeline we're on and Josh's story as well. Assad has made a near-flawless film that should be shown for education just as much as entertainment – and I firmly believe that I just witnessed one of the year's best. It's an easy four & a half stars out of five for me – I'll be thinking about this movie for a long time and recommending it to everyone who sincerely wants to help heal the divide.