A review of the enchanting animated film, “Song of the Sea,” directed by Irish animator Tomm Moore (“The Secret of Kells”). Rating: 3.5 stars out of 4.
Like the best animated films, the Academy Award nominee “Song of the Sea” creates a magical world, one that pulls you in and leaves you, when it’s over, feeling changed by the journey. Directed by Irish animator Tomm Moore, whose 2009 film “The Secret of Kells” was also an Oscar nominee, it’s a gentle folk tale, inspired by Irish myth, about a family living in a lighthouse by the sea.
In a prologue, young Ben and his mother paint pictures on a nursery wall, in anticipation of a new baby; suddenly, it’s six years later, and soft-voiced Mum is gone — and we realize that little sister Saoirse, who doesn’t speak, is not just a little girl. She’s a selkie — a child who turns into a white seal once she enters the sea — and she’s drawn to both the human world and that of the seals, whose bobbing heads seem to beckon her. When Ben and Saoirse are taken away from the lighthouse by their granny, who thinks they’ll be safer with her in the city, they must find their way home again, by way of a fantastical journey.
Hand-drawn (though it appears delicately hand-painted) in soft colors, with much of it taking place in a blue-purple nighttime that you could happily swim in, “Song of the Sea” is rich in detail: Ben’s charmingly chipped front tooth; the faded mustiness of Granny’s room (you can practically smell it); the way Saoirse, gazing out a car window, wistfully draws a fish in the cloud left by her breath. Their journey, in which they encounter curious beings in wonderfully stranger-than-strange settings, is a pleasure at every step — and the story’s resolution may well bring a tear to your eye. See this one on the big screen and be enchanted.
Movie Review ★★★½
‘Song of the Sea,’ with the voices of Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan, David Rawle, Lisa Hannigan, Pat Shortt and Jon Kenny. Directed by Tomm Moore, from a screenplay by Will Collins. 93 minutes. Rated PG for some mild peril, language and pipe-smoking images. Guild 45th.