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Year by the Sea (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 17, 2020

Year by the Sea


Starring Karen Allen, Yannick Bisson, Celia Imrie, S. Epatha Merkerson, Michael Cristofer, Monique Gabriela Curnen, Jane Hajduk, Kohler McKenzie, Alvin Epstein, Amy Van Nostrand, Andria Blackman, Anastasia Tsikhanava, Zachariah Supka and Tyler Haines.

Screenplay by Alexander Janko.

Directed by Alexander Janko.

Distributed by Real Women Make Waves. 114 minutes. Not Rated.

In his song “Beautiful Boy,” John Lennon wrote, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.

Well, okay, he wasn’t the first person to use a variation of that line, but you get the point: life is full of surprises. However, by a certain age, you tend to have settled into your basic life roles. What if you decide to start over late at life?

Year by the Sea is based on the first of three best-selling memoirs by Joan Anderson. As a young woman Anderson was a writer, however she gave up her career to become a wife and mother. Thirty-some years later, both of her sons were out of the house – one had just gotten married and the other was settled into his life – and her husband was relocated to Kansas.

It was just assumed that she would go with him, but she suddenly realized that she did not want to go. She needed to do something for herself, to see if she could survive on her own. So, on a whim, she rented a rustic cabin up in Cape Cod in the hopes of reinventing herself.

Year by the Sea is one of that most elusive of beasts, a film in which four of the five main characters are of retirement age. Starring Karen Allen (Raiders of the Lost Ark, National Lampoon’s Animal House) as the author, the film is really hers – there are several extended portions of the film where she is the only character onscreen. Allen does a wonderful job in the role, easily capturing the attention of the audience.

Also terrific are Celia Imrie (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) as an exceedingly upbeat local woman also named Joan – who is married to a famous psychiatrist who is suffering from Alzheimer’s – and befriends Anderson. S. Epatha Merkerson (Law & Order) has a nice role as well as Joan Anderson’s lesbian best friend and literary agent. Michael Cristofer rounds things out as Joan’s husband, a tightly-wound man who finally learns to open up in life when he possibly loses his wife.

Occasionally the movie got a little new age for my tastes, but mostly it was a sweet and lovely look at life after sixty. Filmed on Cape Cod, needless to say the film looks gorgeous. A scene where Joan visits local Monomoy Island, which is covered by wild seals, is just spectacular.

Seniors are pretty much an overlooked audience when it comes to films, so it is nice that a charming little movie like Year by the Sea is getting made. It will be interesting to see if the box office will warrant a sequel, as Year by the Sea is based on the first book of a three-book series. Here’s hoping that it does.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2017 All rights reserved. Posted: September 9, 2017.

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