Song of the Sea (Tomm Moore, 2014): Ireland

Reviewed by Anissa Perez. Viewed at the AFI Fest in Hollywood.

This beautiful movie directed by Tomm Moore tells the story of a boy who looses his mother at a young age. He feels resentful of his sister; Saoirse, who his mother presumably died in childbirth for and she can’t talk. It isn’t until his sister goes missing on her birthday that the audience sees that she is a selkie. A person who can turn into a seal and is a good mythological creature. After her grandmother finds her washed up on the beach she insists on taking the kids away from their home and their father in order to keep them safe. As soon as they leave, a group of magical “wee folk” come and say they need to get the selkie to the ocean  and in her coat so she can sing her song and save other mythical creatures from their stoney graves. Brother and sister embark on a quest that is a fest for the eyes. This film has perfect characters that are all relatable. The boy in this story misses his mother and takes it out on his sister while the grandmother just wants her grandchildren away from their lighthouse of a home. It is clear to the audience that Saoirse just wants her brother’s approval and will do anything in her power to get it. She is such a cute character that it is impossible not to root for her. Also the stories that the kids hear in the film have parallel characters. The giant that cries an ocean is clearly the main character’s father. They both suffered the loss of a loved one and don’t know how to cope. The Grandmother is similar to Maca. They both don’t like seeing the ones they love in pain so they try to fix it. Maca changes her son to stones while the children’s grandmother takes away her son’s kids without thinking of the repercussions that ripping apart a family will entail.  Even the evil owl witch Maca is understandable. She turns things to stone not to torture them but to make their suffering stop.  Brendan Gleeson and Fiona Flanagan are just a couple of the the voice-over actors that contribute to this film. The songs are all beautifully woven into the plot and character’s journey so seamlessly that it seems natural.  Moore mostly frames the childeren in the center of the screen with a pathway or bbeautiful landscape in the background to further the notion that they are going on an adventure. This formalistic fantasy film does a great job at helping the viewer forget about their troubles and be enthralled with the adventure at hand. The animators do a fantastic job at making the background look real yet whimsical. The water colored greenery and ocean adds a certain amount of uniqueness because it is obvious that all of those parts were hand drawn and painted. This film has everything it needs to go toe to toe with any other childeren’s film. A must watch!

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