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Review: Catch and release with 'Sea Change'

Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at 12:15 PM Central

by John Couture

If you were to take a blender, add equal parts of The Shape of Water and Twlight, and turn it on, the resulting concoction would look a lot like Sea Change. I mean they don't even try to bury the lede in the artwork. Guillermo del Toro is going to sue someone up in here.

Sea Change is a Lifetime TV movie based on a young adult book by the same name published in 2009, you know at the height of Twilight's frenzy. Stop me if you've heard this one before, but a young girl finds herself in a love triangle between two boys, but one of them (maybe both of them? Maybe all three of them?) might actually be a mythical Seawalker creature.

Here is where I would usually show you a trailer of the film to give you a visual representation of the film, but shockingly Lifetime has scrubbed their site and YouTube of any trailers or clips. Interestingly, Lionsgate, which is bringing out the DVD this week, likewise doesn't have a trailer available to share.

It's almost like they don't want you to see anything ahead of time and be scared off.

But the film played on Lifetime in September of 2017, I checked. There are rumors that the film was meant to be a pilot for a TV series, but so far, nothing has come of that scuttlebutt. So, people have seen the film and there are opinions out there, I guess the powers that be are hoping that you won't seek them out and simply be taken by the artwork.

It could happen I suppose.

The film that I watched was your typical Lifetime movie complete with dramatic breaks where you can tell the commercials played. The overall narrative was rather disjointed with a lot of buildup to an ending that was rushed and not very satisfying. I haven't read the book that the film is based on, but the reviews out there seem to indicate that the book followed a similar formula.

The book ended with a cliffhanger and a decade later fans of the book are still waiting for resolution. Those hoping to get that resolution via the movie will be likewise frustrated. Given the ending and how things are left unresolved, you can see that the film was indeed intended to give way to a series or at least more movies to better flesh out the storylines.

With no immediate news on that front, it seems that viewers will soon be in the same predicament as readers concerning the fates of Miranda, Leo, and TJ. The lore of mermaids, sirens and the like have been raided time and again for various dramatic interpretations, but at least Sea Change seeks to switch up the usual sexist trope of men being lured by the temptresses. For that reason alone, I would be interested to see where a possible series would take the characters and the underlying mythology.

As a stand-alone film, it doesn't quite work, but the actors do elevate the work beyond what you would expect from a typical made-for-TV film. In particular, Emily Rudd gives a standout performance as Miranda Merchant and I can't wait to see where her career leads her.

Sea Change is now available on DVD.