“Down the Shore,” a delicate drama set on the New Jersey coast, would be rewarding just for the fine performances from a cast led byand . But recent history has given it an extra layer of poignancy that the filmmakers never intended.
The movie was shot several years ago in Keansburg, a shore town that was ravaged last year by Hurricane Sandy. The story, about three friends and an outsider who forces their secrets to the surface, is heavy with the melancholy of missed opportunity, but now merely thinking of this slice of geography brings on a melancholy all its own. The tattered amusement park where “Down the Shore” is set might have seemed like a cliché before the storm but now feels like a metaphor: Change your ways and confront your demons before your whole world is washed away.
Mr. Gandolfini is Bailey, a given-up-on-life guy who works at the amusement park, which is owned by his lifelong friend Wiley (Joe Pope). Wiley married the woman (Ms. Janssen) Bailey wanted. Secrets from their youth bind the three together in a permanent stasis, until a stranger (Edoardo Costa) turns up with news about Bailey’s sister, who had gone to France and not returned. The director, Harold Guskin, and writer, Sandra Jennings, show admirable patience in letting the story unspool, and the actors reward them.