Harbor seals splash in the surf, fishing vessels dot the waterways and a cottony canopy of fog greets the dawn in “Year by the Sea.” If you weren’t able to squeeze in one last getaway this summer, the lovely postcard views of Cape Cod that decorate this movie might offer some vicarious visual respite.
To enjoy the island scenery, however, you’ll have to wade, ankle-deep, into one of those tales of late-life self-discovery, female variety. Like “Under the Tuscan Sun” and “Eat Pray Love,” “Sea” is based on a real-life travelogue/spiritual journey bestseller (in this case, by author Joan Anderson). In the role of Joan, a 60-ish empty-nester who takes off on her own after her husband fails to tell her that they are moving from New York to Kansas, is the lately too-little-seen Karen Allen. She of the inviting smile, fetching freckles and deadly punch to Harrison Ford’s jaw in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” does much to add warmth and buoyancy to the predictable plot.
From the dashing fisherman who comes to Joan’s aid (Yannick Bisson of TV’s “Murdoch Mysteries”) to the free spirit who befriends her (Celia Imrie of the “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” films, playing New England’s scarf-twirling answer to Isadora Duncan), Joan’s encounters are mainly of the pleasant kind. Melodrama briefly flares as our heroine intervenes when a local shopkeeper is abused by her alcoholic beau. But instead of a hearty chowder of emotional highs and lows, first-time director Alexander Janko, who also adapted the script, settles for a diluted, Campbell’s-Soup version of getting one’s groove back.
Unrated. At Landmark’s West End Cinema. Contains brief strong language and adult situations.