Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous Next Next
Song of the Sea - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Song of the Sea
Directing: B+
Acting: B
Writing: A-
Cinematography: A
Editing: A-
Animation: A

I was a massive champion of the likes of Pixar, with their spectacular visuals married to deeply affecting stories, for the better part of fifteen years. Now even the traditionally more straightforward Disney Animation Studios makes films largely indistinguishable from that flashy CG animation. But now we're encountering to a downside to the steady march of progress in motion picture animation. When a more traditionally made film comes along, no matter how beautiful the animation, no matter how wonderful the story, audiences rarely, if ever, pay attention.

Case in point: Song of the Sea, a truly beautiful, in every sense, Irish feature film based on a Celtic myth, has made all of half a million dollars domestically. It was nominated for an Oscar, which it arguably deserved to win, but lost to the predictably populist Disney film Big Hero Six. Nothing against Big Hero Six per se, but films like Song of the Sea deserve far more attention than this. I urge you to watch it. If not in theatres, though that would be ideal, then on disc or on demand. It'll be available March 17.

The "selkie" of the aforementioned myth is kind of a seal version of a mermaid: women that exist as seals in water but as humans on land. It's tempting to think that sounds a little weird, but maybe women who are half fish is weirder? In any case, their existence in this film by director Tom Moore (The Secret of Kells) is never anything less than lovely.

The myth is secondary to the story of siblings Saoirse and Ben anyway. Their mother is the last of the selkies, and she disappears into the sea upon the birth of Saoirse. Saoirse is half-selkie; Ben is not, I guess, because this mythical creature is only ever a girl. In any case, the story picks up on Saoirse's sixth birthday, Ben an older boy who is resentful of the little sister he blames for the disappearance of his mother.

They live with their dad (voiced by Brendan Gleeson) in a lighthouse. Their grandmother insists the children should live with her in the city, and when Saoirse is found washed up on the beach after sneaking into the sea in the middle of the night, she puts her foot down. But the children take it upon themselves to journey back to the sea, which takes up a large part of the story. During this time Saoirse's supernatural heritage is revealed in bits and pieces.

All of it is spectacularly animated. Not since Sita Sings the Blues (2009) has a film so successfully married mesmerizing animation with a story that is in a class of its own. Here, the visual aesthetic, with striking lines of circles, arcs and spirals filled with lush colors, enhances the story in a truly unique way. The bigger picture in Song of the Sea employs a sophistication that belies the surface imagery, with its style of storytelling that harkens back to many years past. There's nothing flashy, snappy or gimmicky here -- just a solid story and visual palette that stand on their own.

Saoirse (Lucy O'Connell) reveals herself to be a a selkie of Celtic myth in SONG OF THE SEA.

Overall: A-
Leave a comment