Movie Review: “Year by the Sea” only seems that long


Karen Allen still has that freckly twinkle, and movies aimed at women over 60 are so rare that it’s a shame when effort and energy are wasted on one as predigested as “Year by the Sea.”

It’s a writer’s memoir where the only “writing” is an afterthought, a marriage-has-lost-its-romance melodrama about a bored wife who seeks solace by the sea shore.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh did it and wrote it better 70 years ago with “Gift from the Sea,” and as far as movies are concerned, “A Year in Mooring” was a seaside reflection with more drama and pathos.

But “insipid” feels a little over-used today, so we’ll cut precious memoirist Joan Anderson a little slack.

That’s who Allen (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”) plays, an empty-nester whose son’s marriage and her husband’s delayed announcement that his firm is closing its New York office and he must relocate to Wichita prompts her to bail.

Just like that.

Granted, Robin (Michael Cristofer) is something of a whiny complainer. I mean, she has to get up after him to flush the toilet he’s forgotten to empty, but whatever.

So Joan sets out for Cape Cod — Chatham, Massachusetts — where her editor (S. Epatha Merkerson) hopes she’ll start a new book. Joan? She’s not so sure. And living in an oceanside cottage reachable only by dory (dinghy), she’s got her metaphor.

“I’m a bit like a boat…adrift. Nothing to steady me.”

The hunky clam digger (Yannick Bisson) she befriends might change that. But “Nothing goes unnoticed in a small town.”

The quirky local free spirit (Celia Imrie of “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”) could help.

“We have a friendship to develop!”

There’s an abusive relationship to intervene in, clam-digging to master and a gloriously rustic cottage to tidy up.


But nothing much happens here. It’s scenic, but writer-director Alexander Janko has cast the thing with no flavor. Nobody has an accent, not even the local Cape Cod characters.

Allen, Imrie and Merkerson have “adventures” only in the broadest sense of that word.

Leaving nothing to recommend “Year by the Sea.” And if the all-too-apt “insipid” is off the table in this review, then “genial post-menopausal dud” will have to do.


MPAA Rating: unrated, mild profanity, adult themes

Cast: Karen Allen, Celia Imrie, S. Epahta Merkerson, Yannick Bisson

Running time:Credits:Written and directed by Alexander Janko, based on the Joan Anderson memoir . A Real Women Make Waves release.

Running time: 1:54

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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