SLIFF 2015 Review – A RISING TIDE – We Are Movie Geeks



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Review by Dana Jung. 

A RISING TIDE screens Saturday November 7th at 3:15pm and Sunday November 8th at 3:30 as part of The St. Louis International Film Festival. Both screenings are at The Hi-Pointe Backlot. Ticket information can be found HERE and HERE

Natural disasters have a way of bringing out both the best and the worst in people.  Recent weather-related catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina, tornados in the Midwest, and the recent flooding in the South all test the limits of human endurance both emotionally and physically.  The new film A RISING TIDE examines the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy on one family and those they’re involved with as they try to rebuild and restart their lives.

Essentially a love story set against the backdrop of a family’s attempts to start over, A RISING TIDE shows that the pursuit of the dollar is not the only criteria by which success can be measured.  The bonds of family, the caring of friends both old and new, and the lasting comfort of a finely prepared meal are all treasures to be savored in their own way.  Sam (Hunter Parrish, TVs WEEDS) is a New-York trained chef who returns to his parents’ restaurant business after failing to launch his own eatery in the big city.  Sam’s father (Victor Slezak, President Grant on TVs HELL ON WHEELS) is constantly critical and seems to blame Sam for having to rebuild the family business after Hurricane Sandy.  Sam’s mother (Nana Visitor) is supportive and just happy to have her family back together.  Sam is basically coasting through life, resigned to personal disappoints and his father’s disapproval.  A chance meeting with Sarah (Ashley Hinshaw, TRUE BLOOD), a young woman in the process of breaking away from a troubled marriage, soon begins a series of life-changing events that will dramatically alter not only Sam’s life, but also the lives of many of those around him.

Director Ben Hickernell tells this story in a simple style, utilizing the Atlantic City backdrops to great advantage.  The post-Sandy remnants of destruction are still visible in nearby neighborhoods along the shore, and infuse the film’s atmosphere with an aura of melancholy.  These images are constant reminders of not only the loss of life, but also of the shattered hopes and dreams of so many people and families.  Parrish and Hinshaw have and a pleasant and easy chemistry together, as they slowly find common ground in their desires to begin fresh starts.  Though the romance is at times somewhat predictable (Sarah’s husband is a total jerk, while a momentary—and convenient—lapse of judgment drives Sarah away), we are rooting for them to find happiness throughout the film.  Veterans Slekak and Visitor (has it really been over twenty years since DS9?) also provide solid support.  Tim Weber, a veteran of many TV shows including WINGS and the current MADAM SECRETARY, is excellent as well in the pivotal role of Sam’s new friend and benefactor who also gives fatherly advice when Sam needs it most.

Though its love story is well-acted and involving , the lasting emotional impact of A RISING TIDE is the knowledge that life needs to be lived in the moment and occasionally chances taken.  In the next moment, it could all disappear at the whim of mother nature.  It’s the perseverance of the human spirit and the love of those around us that makes us able to face even the most insurmountable of obstacles.