Song Of The Sea
Lovingly made Irish fantasy
Release Date: 10 July
PG | 94 minutes Director: Tomm Moore Cast: David Rawle, Fionnula Flanagan, Brendan Gleeson, Lisa Hannigan
Song Of The Sea was
among the contenders for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars this February. It didn’t win, but now we can finally see it, it’s clear why it was nominated. This is a lovely, crafted film, simple- seeming yet multilayered, drawing on myths and children’s literature, with fairy folk and a romping sheepdog.
It’s an Irish fantasy, the successor ( though not sequel) to a previous Oscar nominee The Secret Of Kells, also by director Tomm Moore. Song Of The Sea is about a brother and sister, 10- year- old Ben and six- year- old Saorise, who live with their dad ( Brendan Gleeson) at a lighthouse. Saorise never speaks, but is drawn to the sea and the seals that watch her. Ben is unusual for a cartoon kid; he’s a bad brother, cruel and resentful towards the sweetnatured Saorise. He has more than a touch of the obnoxious Edmund from The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, one of many stories echoed here.
Saorise, it’s quickly clear, is magical, drawing the kids into an adventure which takes them across the Irish countryside, into dark forests and deep wells. Among the folk they meet is a man who lives in his own giant beard and a scary witch in a hut, who’s half- owl, half monster granny. The drawing is flattened, ornamental and mysterious, with curls and crescents, tweaked perspectives and proportions. At first it can look like
A lovely, crafted film, simple- seeming yet multi- layered
CBeebies fare, until you see the loving compositions in every shot, the way the images flow and fit together. Some subtleties are only clear later, such as why two fantastical characters resemble human ones in the tradition of The Wizard Of Oz.
Older viewers may find some of the story beats overfamiliar from other fantasy books and films. And Song Of The Sea takes a while to really get going; the kids’ magical journey seems to start more than once, and at first it just feels like an arbitrary quest. By the end, though, it resolves into a rich allegory for healing and atonement, for living through loss and loving what remains. Andrew Osmond
“I von’t give you a cold shoulder, hur hur hur.”
Sadly, the Chuckle Brothers weren’t at the end of the pier.