Song of the Sea

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday February 27, 2015

A scene from 'Song of the Sea'
A scene from 'Song of the Sea'  

Director Tomm Moore and screenwriter Will Collins, working from a story by Moore, blend Irish folk lore, fantasy, and family drama into a satisfying film that looks like a children's book come to life, but exudes a captivating charm.

You don't have to be versed in Irish fairy tales to follow "Song of the Sea," but it won't hurt if you happen to be familiar with selkies, daoine sidh, and the like. In essence, Connor (Brendan Gleeson), a lighthouse keeper, is still in mourning for his wife, Bronach (Lisa Hannigan) after six years. His son Ben (David Rawle) is around 11; his daughter, Saoirse (Lucy O'Connell) has just turned six. What we assume is a tragic history involving death at childbirth turns out to be more complicated, as Saoirse -- guided by magical lights -- discovers a magical coat that allows her to take the form of a seal pup and cavort in the sea.

Unnerved by Saoirse's ventures to the shoreline, Granny (Fionnula Flanagan) asserts herself and takes the kids off to live with her in the city. But ancient magical forces are stirring that won't be content to let things go at that; a powerful "owl witch" named Macha (Flannagan) has sent her winged minions to bring Saoirse to her, for reasons of her own... reasons that will spell the end of all so-called fairy folk, unless Ben can protect his sister and retrieve her lost selkie coat.

The art direction by Adrien Mericeau is colorful and simplistic not eh surface, but beautiful and complex in the way he uses color and form to bring the story to life. Bruno Coulais, in association with Irish folk music band KŪla, creates a stirring world of music that meshes well with the animation.

In the tradition of modern animated films such as "The Painting" and "The Secret World of Arrietty," "Song of the Sea" casts its spell regardless of age. Kids will love it, and so will adults.


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Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.