When he was little, and on the day his sister Saoirse was born, Ben’s mother disappeared into the sea. Filled with resentment toward his sister, Ben never warmed to her, and Saoirse spends her days silent. When they are taken to live with their grandmother in Dublin, however, Ben and Saoirse battle to get back to their isolated lighthouse home, with a little help from the faerie folk of Ireland.
Song of the Sea is director Tomm Moore’s first film since The Secret of Kells in 2009, and carries on the tradition set in place by its predecessor. In fact, there are times when the story of the two films feels incredibly similar, and it is easy to tell they were made by the same creative team.
The voice cast of Song of the Sea is a strong one, and includes Brendan Gleeson, Pat Shortt, Fionnuala O’Flanagan and Lisa Hannigan. All of the cast do fine jobes with their characters, but there are times when reaction times feel a little slow, as though the actors are awaiting their cue.
The story, written by Will Collins, ties together several Irish legends, while making up some new ones for good measure. There is something ethereal about the Irish folklore tales, and this translates well into Song of the Sea, although there are times when the modern setting and the magical story don’t always sync up.
The animation, as with The Secret of Kells, is simply stunning. The attention to detail and the highly stylised look of the art, make the film feel slightly otherworldly, and here are some scenes that are simply breathtaking. The folklore side of the film joins in well with the style, however, when the film moves to Dublin, the style and city clash, making the film feel slight and superficial.
In all, Song of the Sea is a stunningly beautiful film that perhaps lacks dialogue, and a cohesive link between the tales from Irish folklore that are induced. Gleeson, Flanagan and Shortt are on great form, but are let down by uncertain pacing, and odd breaks in dialogue. However, the film must be praised for its detailed and beautiful animation, which continues to delight throughout the 93 minute running time.