Cliché by the Sea

Has anyone else seen “Year By The Sea”? Just wondering if there are fellow victims out there. This is not a recommendation. Yes, it was filmed mostly in Wellfleet and there is some pretty photography of our harbor, streets and buildings, so it’s understandable that those with a Wellfleet connection will want to satisfy their curiosity. (There is a nice shot of Stephen Russell in a church pew.) But be warned: the pretty photography will not repay you for having been even slightly inconvenienced when various streets were closed down for the filming last year. The movie is from start to finish an astounding collection of cliches, to the point of unconscious self-parody. There is hardly an un-cliched moment in the whole thing. There are cliches about women’s spiritual growth, about aging, about marriage, about husbands, about feminism—about the sort of car driven by a woman in search of spiritual growth. One of the main ways the moviemakers let us know that these women are liberated is to show them, every time they get in a car, running into something.

The most annoying clichés are about Outer Cape life. While celebrating our natural beauty, the movie is clueless about the smallest details of life here: how cold the water is in the late Fall, the look and feel of the off-season town, the people. It’s an insult, really, to anyone who has spent even one year by the sea, let alone five, ten, 40, or a lifetime.

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