Adapted from Joseph Conrad’s short story “Amy Foster,” “Swept from the Sea” chronicles the ill-fated romance between a shipwreck survivor and the outcast of a coastal village. Bound for a better life in America, European emigrant Yanko (Vincent Perez, “Indochine,” “Queen Margot,”) is stranded in a vaguely hostile English coastal farming community after he survives a violent storm at sea. Initially believed to be a thief or a madman, Yanko is mistreated by all except Amy until the local country doctor, (Sir Ian McKellen, “Lord of the Rings,” “Gods and Monsters,” “X-Men,”) realizes that the non-English speaking stranger in their midst is the sole survivor of the shipwreck.
The connection between Yanko and Amy (Rachel Weitz, “About a Boy,” “The Mummy,” “Stealing Beauty,”) is immediate and electric, and Yanko is enthralled by her. He is motivated to learn English and earn money so that he can eventually come courting, and the scene in which he shyly comes to call on Amy for the first time is awkward and endearing. The fact that Amy and Yanko are both outcasts in the community forges a bond between them. Yanko is not accepted because of his foreign-ness and Amy is shunned for no discernable reason other than she is perceived to be different. This film presents an unflinching view of how intolerance isolates people, and the tragic conclusion only underscores the importance of acceptance and community. This lyrical, well-acted period piece will appeal to those who find a film satisfying even when the conclusion is not the requisite happy ending one expects from a romance.