Song Of The Sea


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Song Of The Sea
"The flowing feel of the sea runs through Moore's animation, just as illuminated manuscript ran through Kells."

Tomm Moore notched up his second Oscar nomination for an animated feature with this follow up to The Secret Of Kells, which features the same intricately drawn, Celtic-inflected animation as its predecessor and a considerably tighter story.

High on a rocky island sits a lighthouse, where Ben (David Rawle) lives with his storytelling mum (Lisa Hannigan) and lighthouse keeper dad (Brendan Gleeson), where they are awaiting the arrival of the newest member of the family. Fast-forward a few years and tragedy has struck, leaving Dad alone with the kids and Ben resentful of his little sister Saoirse, whose inability to speak only serves to fuel his jealousy. When a night-time excursion threatens to make Saoirse sick, the kids are bundled off to the mainland and 'the city' with grandma (Fionnula Flanagan), leaving behind their beloved dog CĂș. But there is magic in the air, courtesy of a shell flute left to Ben by his mum - not to mention the fact that his little sister might be a selkie.

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As the children embark on an attempt to get home, they find themselves swirled up on waves of Celtic myth - specifically the story of the goddess (or witch, depending on your viewpoint) Macha, who is bottling up the emotions of fairy folk and turning them to stone. Could it be that little Saoirse holds the key?

The flowing feel of the sea runs through Moore's animation, just as illuminated manuscript ran through Kells. The palette is filled with the blues, greens and browns of nature, with weather patterns shifting to match the characters' moods. The hand-drawn animation follows the curves of the landscape - straight lines are reserved for things that are manmade - giving the whole enterprise an organic feel, with Moore frequently using circular motion and symmetry to draw the eye deeper into the frame.

Children who like bedtime stories of fairies and witches will find themselves in familiar but distinctive territory and are likely to be quickly caught up in the story which features plenty of laughter as well as a decent dollop of danger. The emotions rising here are unusually complex for children's animation - frustration, jealousy, longing and grief - but they are well explored and allowed to remain as intricate as the drawings that explore them. There is mystery here, too, the sort that doesn't need to be solved to be enjoyed.

Reviewed on: 09 Jul 2015
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A brother and sister find themselves on a magical adventure.
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Director: Tomm Moore

Writer: Will Collins, based on a story by Tomm Moore

Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan, Pat Shortt, David Rawle, Jon Kenny, Lisa Hannigan

Year: 2014

Runtime: 93 minutes

Country: Ireland, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, France


London 2014
Leeds 2014

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If you like this, try:

The Secret Of Kells