Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Year By the Sea starring Karen Allen: Read it Before You See It


Yesterday, doing some research for the September movies based on books, I discovered what looks like a small gem. While it played a host of film festivals last year to great reviews, it sounds to me like a little gem that deserves more light shined on it. A Year by the Sea is based on the memoir by Joan Anderson, A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman. It’s the bit following the colon that tells you everything you need to know. To live a full, complete life we need to acknowledge that we never stop growing, learning. We are never done, life is a process and to feel vital and truly alive, we need to stay fully engaged in that process. The question is how.



The film stars Karen Allen as Anderson as Joan, a novelist who after 30 years of marriage chooses not to follow her husband to his newest job but instead to retreat to a family cottage on Cape Cod and re-examine her life. 

I’ve started Anderson’s memoir which begins with this quote from Rainer Maria Rilke in Letter to a Young Poet.
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.
Do not now seek the answers which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything.                                      
Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answers.


Here’s the lowdown on Year by the Sea from Penguin Random House:
An entrancing memoir of how one woman's journey of self-discovery gave her the courage to persevere in re-creating her life.  
Life is a work in progress, as ever-changing as a sandy shoreline along the beach. During the years Joan Anderson was a loving wife and supportive mother, she had slowly and unconsciously replaced her own dreams with the needs of her family. With her sons grown, however, she realized that the family no longer centered on the home she provided, and her relationship with her husband had become stagnant. Like many women in her situation, Joan realized that she had neglected to nurture herself and, worse, to envision fulfilling goals for her future. As her husband received a wonderful job opportunity out-of-state, it seemed that the best part of her own life was finished. Shocking both of them, she refused to follow him to his new job and decided to retreat to a family cottage on Cape Cod. 
At first casting about for direction, Joan soon began to take pleasure in her surroundings and call on resources she didn't realize she had. Over the course of a year, she gradually discovered that her life as an "unfinished woman" was full of possibilities. Out of that magical, difficult, transformative year came A Year by the Sea, a record of her experiences and a treasury of wisdom for readers.

I’ve been thinking about the book and the movie and as I indicated yesterday, I hope that it finds its audience. I suspect it’s aimed primarily at women like me—women who have been married forever, who’ve raised their kids into happy adulthood and while they may have work that satisfies, too often they merely have jobs. Empty nesters who may find that while empty nests are much cleaner and tidier than they ever were before, those nests are much quieter too. And in that quiet the sound of ‘what next?’ ricocheting throughout the house can become quite blaring. I’m determined to make my last chapter count.



I plan to finish Anderson’s book before I see the movie when it comes out here in Los Angeles on September 15th, maybe even get my take on the book written up. That shouldn’t be a problem since Anderson’s memoir is just a couple of hundred pages. As far as seeing the movie goes, I’m lucky because here in L.A. I can choose between the Laemmle theaters in West Los Angeles or Encino. It’s also playing in Pasadena. Check the Year by the Sea website to see if the film is scheduled for a theater near you.
The movie was written by composer Alexander Janko who after a long career making music for the movies (My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Girl on the Train), makes his directorial debut here. Naturally Janko does the music too.



Let’s watch the trailer with Karen Allen—who has aged beautifully since she lit up the screen and Indiana Jones’ eyes in 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark—as Joan, S. Epatha Merkerson as an old friend and Celia Imrie as a new one. Michael Christofer plays her husband with Yannick Bisson as the sexy local fisherman that catches her eye.



Gimme a holler if you’ve read the book or are planning on reading it before you see Year by the Sea. Let’s compare notes!

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