Featuring the first lead performance from perennial supporting actor Josh Lucas (The Lincoln Lawyer, Undertow), Hide Away is a very meditative and poetic film about grief, guilt, isolation, and all those terrible, rough things that everyone goes through and which is needed in order to completely experience life. Sparsely populated and with minimal dialogue, Hide Away takes its time and tells a subtle story, quiet and effective and all around well done.
A young executive type called the Young Mariner (Lucas) shows up at a dilapidated harbor, buys a rundown boat, and immediately sets out to restore it. Bailing out water by the buckets and disposing of dead rodents, it is apparent that fixing up this boat is a way for him to not just swallow himself up in grief and depression. It is alluded to very early on that something terrible happens to his family, and it doesn’t take more than a quick look at the Young Mariner’s face to see the pain and mourning and put two and two together.
As he lives on the boat and tries to fix it, he interacts with a very small group of people in the harbor area around him. There is the Waitress (Ayelet Zurer, Munich), who appears to be the sole employee of the Boathouse Café, and who might be hiding some of her own secrets, because why else would someone want to set up stakes in such a desolate and depressing area? And then there’s the Ancient Mariner (James Cromwell, W., The Artist), who spends his time smoking his pipe, playing his bagpipes and pretty much just acting like a retired old sailor. He slowly takes the Young Mariner under his wing a bit, and opens up to him about his own regrets and mournful past, in an effort to help the Young Mariner get out of his funk.
But most of the movie, it is just the Young Mariner and his boat, and somehow they help each other and make each other better. And fixing this boat is no small task – he spends the better part of a year living on that boat in that harbor, fixing every little thing possible, and this had him on the boat alone in horrible winter weather, of which he could only get through with the aid of hard liquor and cough syrup, but after a few scary episodes and nearly suicidal dips into alcoholism, the Young Mariner finds what he needs to do and what it takes for him to finally be able to even begin to think of healing and moving on from the personal tragedy that haunts him.
Full of some very gorgeous and well-composed shots, with an almost Terrence Malick-level of attention paid to the surrounding nature and landscapes and sunsets, Hide Away is a rather lovely film about a rather heavy subject, and while the slow pace and intense themes will turn off some people, those with some patience (and maybe a fresh espresso) should be able to fully appreciate this interesting and well acted drama.
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