Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Song of the Sea is by far one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen. It holds emotion in its backgrounds and wonderful colours. Most have never seen animation like it. Song of the Sea holds an element of wonder combined with sadness. It shows both the loss and gain of hope within a character's facial expressions. For example, when Saorise (one of the main protagonists, the selkie) falls ill - they manage to include lines, implying that she's tired. The way this is animated can suggest this is for children, including that the protagonists are only six and (roughly) ten or eleven, but it is not a children's film.
The film battles with issues that most children would not be able to comprehend. Added to the Irish folklore, it's overwhelming. The film forces you to pay attention, just so you understand what is going on. It shows us what is beyond our imaginations. Some even suggest research before you watch it, which is a valid point to make.
Characters have their own muse, with the father (Conor, voiced by Brendan Gleeson) having sadness, Saorise (voiced by Lucy O'Connell) has a muse of temptation. She struggles to hold back from the ocean, she finds it difficult to stay by her brother; forcing him to tie her by a leash. Ben (voiced by David Rawle) has an ongoing theme of envy, jealous, for his sister. Feeling as if she's praised more, being spiteful towards her for a long duration of the 93 minutes.
Furthermore, the emotion. It can sometimes be difficult to convey such feelings within a voice and a drawing. There is a certain scene where Conor is in a pub, drinking a Guinness (adding to the ongoing Irish theme), and you can see his inner torment. Not necessarily from himself but from the lighting of the pub. It's dark, golden light reflecting off some places but not massively. It's dark enough to tell us that he's grieving, black lights connoting it heavily.
Saorise is mute. She can't speak. All of her emotion, sickness, is conveyed through her face. For an animator especially, it's difficult to show how she feels within a scene. The storyline relies completely on her. Song of the Sea is execellent in showing her joy when she's swimming with the seals. Her eyes hold wonder and hope within them, it's incredibly clever.
Ben, however, speaks as much as he can. Coming across as incredibly spiteful towards a lot of people, seeming very irritating. We learn that Ben is extremely envious of his sister, feeling as if she's more than he is. On her birthday, he's extremely rude towards Saorise and his grandma. The grandma, in fairness, isn't too nice herself.
There is one thing that kept me from giving this a full five stars. Song of the Sea has plenty of unexplained plot-holes. At the end, the people and I who watched it had mountains of questions we wanted to be answered. For those with little to no explanation of Irish folklore, we don't understand how or why their mother leaves and why Saorise falls extremely sick.
Overall, Song of the Sea is a brilliant watch. It's exceptional at showing the struggles of, even after six years, a grieving family and unexplained disappearances of their mother. For those who have expereinced losing a parent, not even from death, it shows the upset and gives a soft, delicate, punch to the heart. It is certainly not a children's film. It holds issues close that today's kids would not grasp.
With visual aspects conveying emotion greatly, Song of the Sea smashes your expectations of thinking it's an animated children's film. It tackles myths and real issues in a way animation has only done a few times.