Josh Lucas and James Cromwell in "Hide Away." (MMC Joule Films) (MMC Joule Films )
A grieving man takes refuge in a dilapidated heap of a sailboat in "Hide Away," slowly restoring its seaworthiness while regaining his equilibrium. The broken-down vessel is an apt metaphor, but sometimes a metaphor is only seafoam-deep. This quiet, atmospheric drama (originally titled "A Year in Mooring") feels padded even in its brief running time; it's a slight mood piece posing as a character study.
Josh Lucas is the unnamed protagonist, a businessman who takes possession of the battered boat. The shattering loss that has led him to the secluded Michigan harbor is clumsily hinted at, until it's revealed in a snippet of melodramatic flashback that has no emotional impact. Nor does the film as a whole.
Lucas' contained performance goes only so far to plumb his character's pain and guilt. As two marina denizens who observe and guide his healing, James Cromwell and Ayelet Zurer are more intriguing, if no more fleshed out. Along with their gentle advice they spout verses of Longfellow's "The Children's Hour." And they, too, go without names, although in the credits, the central trio are dubbed the Young Mariner, the Ancient Mariner and the Waitress — indicative of the way Peter Vanderwall's screenplay reaches, in vain, for a mythic quality.
Director Chris Eyre ("Smoke Signals") relies on pretty scenery and papers together images with singer-songwriter numbers. He conveys a strong sense of place and of solitude, but can't replenish the story's shallows.
"Hide Away." MPAA rating: PG-13 for a scene of sensuality, brief strong language and thematic material. Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes. At Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.