You cannot help but be swept along with the fantastical story
In amongst the maelstrom of dross that comes out of Hollywood, there are, on occasion, independent films that remind you how terrific the cinematic medium can be; how engrossing when character development and empathy coincide with a sensitive yet encapsulating story and how absorbing a story can be when you care about the characters, their plight and the outcome. Tonight’s feature, Song of the Sea, is one such film, that takes a simple folklore story full of hidden depths, treats its origins and the audience with respect and the result is something magical.
The film is director Tomm Moore’s second feature (after The Secret of Kells) in which he takes on another Irish folklore story of fairies, magical beings, giants and evil witches and interweaves it with a modern family grieving after the loss of their mother, sibling rivalry, interfering grannies to enchant and bewitch the audience with an all-encompassing story about love, loss and the heart of the family. Even though the story is fantastical in its elements at its core there is a struggling family that everyone can identify with, grounding the characters in a real situation that enables empathy with their plight – as such the audience is willingly drawn along into their world and the story becomes so much more. By using both visual and musical cinematic tricks, Moore, transports the audience into, through and ultimately out of his universe and everyone is the better for it. It is a magical film and one that not only deserves is Academy Award nomination, but really ought to have won.
Ben, a young boy, lives with his sister and widowed father on a remote lighthouse island with his loyal dog. His mother told him stories of fairies, giants and evil witches before bed and this has shaped his way of looking at the world. When his granny takes the siblings away to the city, his sister, Saoirse, is revealed to have special powers; she is her mother’s daughter; and Ben must battle his feelings, evil witches and rivalry to enable him to save not only his family but the whole of the fairy nation.
Director Tomm Moore injects his film with so much emotion, ably helped by the simplistic, yet complex, animation and incredibly moving score by Bruno Coulais, that you cannot help but be swept along with the fantastical story. Song of the Sea manages to be grounded, natural and ethereal all together, and creates an enchanting film that will touch everyone of all ages.
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