Remember a few weeks ago when I told everyone to watch John Sayles’ The Secret of Roan Inish, newly to Netflix? And remember when I said it’d have to hold y’all over until Tomm Moore’s Song of the Seawas made available on one of the mainstream platforms (although I also said you should just rent it because it’s that good)? Remember?
Well, you’re starting to run out of excuses, because it’s now streaming on AMAZON PRIME. (It can also be rented from AMAZON INSTANT($),YOUTUBE($), and SOME OTHERS($). So don’t let a little thing like not having Prime stop you.)
From the creators of the Academy Award®-nominated The Secret of Kells comes a breathtakingly gorgeous, hand-drawn masterpiece. Based on the Irish legend of the Selkies, Song of the Sea tells the story of the last seal-child, Saoirse, and her brother Ben, who go on an epic journey to save the world of magic and discover the secrets of their past. Pursued by the owl witch Macha and a host of ancient and mythical creatures, Saoirse and Ben race against time to awaken Saoirse’s powers and keep the spirit world from disappearing forever.
I remember being sold pretty much the instant I saw the film’s first teaser a while back, both because I love, love, LOVE Moore’s The Secret of Kells and because the visual style is so striking. (I actually watched the teaser over and over again because I loved the badger image so much. I’m not sorry.)
Steven Greydanus says it’s “even more dazzling” than its older sibling, as well as “more satisfying on a number of levels” to him. I struggle with embracing the second claim for myself, because I love both of them so much. But the first one is true: this wonderfully quiet, confident film is even more beautiful than Kells.
Although there is clearly an artistic kinship between Song of the Sea and The Secret of Kells, which evokes an illuminated text brought to life, the new film is visually more mature and more accessible. Both films are strikingly graphical and two-dimensional, with a strong design sense and rich, subtle textures, but compositions in Song are less sharply geometric and there are more organic shapes and fluid movements.
Here’s the thing, though. There are a ton of artistic reasons for loving this film, but there are just as many story/thematic reasons. It’s wonderful stuff. I was definitely moved, especially by the protective/combative relationship between Ben and Saoirse, and the incredibly real emotions of their sorrowing father. (Yes, I’m far more easily moved when I watch movies about kids than I used to be during my kid-free days. No, that doesn’t mean you won’t be moved. It’s powerful.)
A real gem, this.