Song Of The Sea

Lov­ingly made Ir­ish fan­tasy

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated -

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.

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