Have you ever read a film synopsis that sounded so “bonkers”, you just had to check the movie out for yourself? That’s what happened when I stumbled across the 2017 Lifetime film, Sea Change. This is a movie I had never heard of until this year. It’s also a fantasy story, a genre Lifetime rarely creates projects for. Based on the film’s synopsis sounding so “outside of the box” for Lifetime, I not only had to seek the movie out, I had to review it as well. Whenever I’ve talked about Hallmark productions, there have been times when I wished the network would take a break from the typical rom-com or drama. The same can be said for Lifetime. In recent years, that network has relied on mystery thrillers and true crime stories, with the occasional drama. But how does Sea Change fare as a fish out of Lifetime’s waters? Let’s dive in and find out!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: While watching Sea Change, I discovered Siobhan Williams starred in the film. Knowing that name sounded familiar, I looked through my movie reviews to see if I had reviewed any of her movies. Sure enough, I had not only written about Flicka: Country Pride, I had also talked about her character from that movie! Similar to Flicka: Country Pride, Siobhan portrayed a popular “mean girl” named Ginny. But in the 2017 Lifetime production, Ginny was a lot less annoying. Siobhan’s expressions were fluid, allowing her character to experience a variety of emotions. When a local lawyer questions Ginny about her cousin’s whereabouts, Ginny responds in a nonchalant way, an unconcerned look on her face and a tone of voice that lacks urgency. But when a family tragedy occurs, shock is stamped on Ginny’s face. Her eyes appear to stare out into the distance and paired with a frown.
While I haven’t reviewed any of Keenan Tracey’s projects, I have seen some of his Hallmark programs, including When Calls the Heart. In Sea Change, Keenan portrayed TJ, a young man who was staying on the island for the summer. During the story, Keenan consistently maintained a laid-back, easy-going personality. This consistency made his performance appear effortless! I also liked seeing Emily Rudd’s portrayal of the protagonist, Miranda! Similar to Siobhan’s performance, Emily portrayed her character with a variety of emotions. One of her best scenes took place toward the beginning of the movie. In this scene, Miranda is recalling a memory of her late father. Her mother reveals some information that goes against this memory. As soon as she receives this information, shock trickles down Miranda’s face. Her eyes become really wide and her lip quivers ever so slightly.
The scenery: In Sea Change’s opening credits, it was mentioned the movie was filmed in Nova Scotia. This Canadian locale presented a very convincing Maine! While Miranda went jogging, she traveled near the edge of a grassy cliff, which overlooked the ocean. The bright orange and yellow hues of the sunset paired beautifully with the dark blue ocean waters. This same ocean was captured magnificently at night-time! While on her jog, Miranda visits the ocean’s shore in the evening. A color palette of deep blue, black, and even purple created an environment that was beautiful in a dreamlike way. The scenery definitely stole the show and felt like a character itself!
A mystery subplot: As I said in the introduction, Sea Change is a fantasy story. But within this story, a mystery was included as a subplot. At the beginning of the movie, a murder takes place on the beach. The island’s law enforcement and a local lawyer attempt to solve the case. The audience learns early on who the culprit is. But what kept me invested is seeing how this information would be discovered by the lawyer and law enforcement team. With the gathering of clues, the mystery provided an element of suspense to the overall story. It was a familiar thread Lifetime wove in a newer way!
What I didn’t like about the film:
Poor audio: I’m well aware a typical made-for-tv production works with a smaller budget. With that said, part of the budget should be reserved for quality audio equipment. In Sea Change, the characters’ dialogue was so quiet, it sounded like they were mumbling. This forced me to turn up the volume on my television, as it was difficult to hear what the characters were saying.
Questions left unanswered: According to Sea Change’s synopsis, Miranda “makes a startling discovery about her connection to the Seawalkers”. Throughout this one hour and twenty-one-minute film, this connection was never revealed. Leo, one of the Seawalkers, tells his sister how Miranda will save them. The question of how Miranda will save the Seawalkers was never answered either. These are just two examples of questions that were not resolved. This is especially an issue toward the end of the movie, when the story is left open-ended. I’m not sure if this was done as a weak attempt at setting up a sequel or leaving room for the audience to interpret what might happen. But by the end of the story, you’re left with more loose ends than necessary.
Few appearances from the Seawalkers: When I reviewed the 2012 Hallmark movie, Chasing Leprechauns, I mentioned how the titular leprechauns could be heard and not seen. This made that film’s title seem somewhat misleading. Sea Change contains a similar flaw. While the characters talk about the existence of Seawalkers and while the movie’s synopsis brings them up, the Seawalkers themselves are rarely shown as Seawalkers. More often than not, they are presented in human form. From the perspective of an audience member, I speculated this creative decision was likely made as a result of the production’s limited budget.
My overall impression:
Fantasy is a genre Lifetime rarely delves into. After seeing Sea Change, though, I think I know why the fantasy genre doesn’t often appear on Lifetime. Based on its synopsis, I thought Sea Change was going to be a “bonkers” picture. I even believed this could be my “so bad it’s good” movie. The movie itself is an average, weak imitation of Twilight. If you’ve seen or read that story, or any story similar to Twilight, you’ve already seen Sea Change. While there were aspects of the film I liked, I, honestly, can’t recommend it. One reason why is how so many questions are left unanswered. As I said in my review, the film’s ending is left open-ended. Since Sea Change seems to be a stand-alone story, this fact will only leave viewers frustrated. What made this movie disappointing, for me, was how unmemorable it was. Because Lifetime rarely creates projects in the fantasy genre, it’s a shame Sea Change didn’t stand out, for better or worse.
Overall score: 5.5 out of 10
Have you seen Sea Change? Did you ever come across a film synopsis that sounded so “bonkers”, you felt you had to check out the movie? Let me know in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!