Charlotte Rampling

A fine Ciaran Hinds stars in 'The Sea,' which struggles with its literary roots

A fine Ciaran Hinds stars in 'The Sea,' which struggles with its literary roots

From the mannered opening sequence of “The Sea” to its anticlimactic conclusion, the movie’s capital-L literary provenance couldn’t be more evident. Though handsomely photographed and featuring a compelling cast, the Ireland-set memory piece — adapted by John Banville from his Man Booker Prize-winning novel — will leave audiences wondering how much more satisfying the muted drama might be on the page.

An excellent Ciaran Hinds stars as the recently widowed Max Morden, who in his grief returns to the seaside town where he spent summers as a child. The stately boardinghouse whose proprietor (Charlotte Rampling) hovers protectively and smokes elegantly holds particular memories for...

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