“Sometimes when you get where you’re supposed to be, it’s too soon,” goes a third-act kernel of sagacity in Hide Away, an earnest dark-night-of-the-soul slog whose guilt-purging destination is far too long in coming for 80 minutes. The setting is the shore of postcard-pretty Grand Traverse Bay in Michigan, where an enigmatic fortyish man in a business suit (Josh Lucas) takes possession of a beat-up sailboat for an open-ended sojourn. (When the emotionally wounded visitor—nameless, but pretentiously named in the credits as “The Young Mariner”—haltingly answers the question “You divorced?” in the negative, it’s already too big a tip of the climactic revelation.) With the dialogue sparse, director Chris Eyre sets about observing TYM doing things the hard way: tumbling into the damp hold of his flooded vessel, using a hand pump to dry it out, failing to get his motor to turn over, and commencing a winter-long drunken jag, huddled on the pier or in his bed reading The Odyssey. Gazing wistfully at him from the bayside cafe’s porch is a chain-smoking, raven-haired waitress (Ayelet Zurer), and the inevitable gray-bearded Ancient Mariner (James Cromwell), both of whom will inevitably supply some amateur therapy in the talky second half, when they’re not spontaneously reciting Longfellow’s “The Children’s Hour” together.
Lucas, shot in deglamorized mode that can’t squelch his big blue eyes, is appealing in the manner of a lower-voltage Paul Newman, but while he has plenty of actor-fodder “big moments” to chew on, shaking a pair of thin trees in his fists when not trembling with grief-steeped anxiety, he and Eyre can’t overcome the banality of Peter Vanderwall’s technically original script. A checkout girl (Casey LaBow) TYM has been eyeing rushes to his boat after being battered by a boyfriend; Cromwell’s grizzled seadog has a loss that parallels the younger man’s; Zurer’s cafe siren spins a tale of a transglobal voyage, virtually rendering her as a creature of mythology. All of it registers as forced “poetry” that doesn’t signify in a fresh way. (Eyre also seems to hew distractingly to the teal-and-orange palette of recent viral notoriety.) Hide Away is at best as bland as its transitional shots of water fowl and snow-covered beaches, when its characters aren’t telegraphing the writer’s capital-U universal themes with every word they speak.