Mooring as Metaphor
Published on June 1st, 2012 | by Charles H. Meyer0
“Hide Away” is now showing at Film Society of Lincoln Center.
Running time: 88 minutes. Rated PG-13.
In Chris Eyre’s beautifully made film “Hide Away,” the unnamed protagonist, who is referred to in the credits simply as the young mariner, has found himself unmoored by tragedy. In response, he moors himself to a dilapidated wreck of a sailboat, which itself remains moored throughout the film, and begins patiently restoring it, albeit with great frustration and repeated setbacks, to its original beauty and integrity. The sailboat acts as the young mariner’s broken but protective shell, an evocative symbol of his emotional devastation and fragility but also of his rugged fortitude; and by externalizing his personal healing process through his careful and thorough repair of the boat, he both avoids the work of mourning just enough to stay barely afloat and lets that mourning take its slow, rocky, relentless, frequently painful, but ultimately successful course.
I admire the young mariner, portrayed with well-measured restraint by Josh Lucas, because he has the good sense to take refuge from the world to heal, to reflect, to wrestle with his pain. However, the year-long hermitage that results does have its share of unhealthy episodes; in his stubborn solipsism, the young mariner tries to do himself in by drowning his sorrows in a dangerous combination of cold medicine and liquor, assisting the poison by almost literally drowning when, in an intoxicated stupor, he falls overboard.
Thankfully, and somewhat miraculously, he is rescued by an ancient mariner (James Cromwell), a man who seems to have just stepped out of a Winslow Homer painting and who possesses both worldly wisdom and a talent for sail making. The ancient mariner is himself in a period of mourning, but his is far more protracted than that of his young acquaintance. It is in part by seeing someone suffering even more than he is that the young mariner emerges from his hideaway, both literally and figuratively, to rejoin the world, as he is finally again able to recognize that he is not alone, that his experience is universal.
In addition to Lucas and Cromwell, “A Year in Mooring” also stars the acclaimed Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer as an alluring, bonsai-trimming restaurateur who, along with the ancient mariner, quietly and protectively watches over our hero for the duration of his emotional and psychological voyage. As he repairs the sailboat, she occasionally asks him, in a deliciously flirtatious double entendre, “When are you going to take her out?”