The year is 1949. Jacques Cousteau had just finished with the army and dreaming of a life full of sea exploration, diving and travel. Armed only with his grand ideas and little money he is ready to make his dreams all come true. But when you sacrifice everything for the greater purpose, does the purpose itself become hard to see?
Director Jerome Salle, who has a few well received French comic book adaptations under his belt, takes on a family saga. An ambitious project about a character many in this world grew up with, the plot focuses on Jacques' relationships with his two sons, following his rise and downfall between the early fifties and the late seventies, when he is facing a crises in both his personal and his professional life.
In biopics the cast is what usually makes it or breaks it. Lambert Wilson has the looks of Jacques Cousteau, but he also seems to embody his spirit. His co-star Pierre Niney had already proved he could do a biopic in the role of Yves Saint Laurent a few years back. The leading men look natural together as a father and a son, united by love and respect, but divided by their outlook on life.
The make up is fantastic, the brilliant visual effects are beautiful and tense (the shark scene will have you clinging to your seat), and the shots of the most exotic parts of the world are stunning. The outstanding soundtrack by Alexander Desplat deserves a praising article of its own.
ODYSSEY manages to capture a perfect adventure spirit but at the same time keeping it real all the way. The script is competently written with interesting accents and never glamorises the life of Captain Cousteau, who was unfaithful to his wife and, at times, was too self centred to see the bad things happening all around him.
ODYSSEY is a very complete and satisfying piece of movie making that deserves all the praise and attention it can get.