Saoirse is a child who is the last of the selkies, women in Irish and Scottish legends who transform from seals into people. She escapes from her grandmother’s home to journey to the sea and free fairy creatures trapped in the modern world.
I’ve been wanting to see this since I saw the trailer exactly a year ago. I was so impressed by the visuals of The Secret of Kells (2009), I adore the hand-drawn animation style where virtually EVERY single scene is worth framing. Five years later, filmmaker Tomm Moore is back with another mythical tale, this time it’s based on an ancient Celtic myth of the selkie, creatures that live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land (per Wiki).
Brendan Gleeson is also back as one of the voice cast, but it’s David Rawle as the young boy Ben who’s the lead of the film, along with his younger sister Saoirse who’s mostly silent throughout the film. The story begins with a young boy losing his mother and later on, which prompts his dad Conor (Gleeson) to place Ben and Saoirse with their grandmother in the city. But from there, he ends up embarking on an adventure of his life.
I have to admit the story isn’t too easy to follow at times, but the visuals are so breathtakingly-beautiful I don’t mind so much. I’m not saying this film is more style than substance, as there’s a deep and magical quality of the mythical tale that once you grasp what’s going on, it’s really quite an emotional ride. I admire the tremendous craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into creating each animated piece. The vibrant colors and ethereal quality, paired with the lush Celtic music, it’s like a beautiful lullaby of a movie that transports you into an otherworldly realm.
Like in The Secret of Kells where you could practically smell the trees and the ground the characters walk on, there’s something so evocative about the ocean landscape in this movie. I could practically feel the sea breeze, the chilly wave and wind of the Irish coast. The visuals is truly a feast for the eyes that the slower pace actually gives you room to appreciate the artwork before you.
This is an absolute must-see for any fan of animated features, or anyone looking for something unique and magical. There’s a heartwarming familial theme makes this a perfect film to watch with the whole family, even though there are perhaps some scenes that might spook really young children.
This movie was among the nominees for Best Animated Features at last year’s Oscar which went to Big Hero 6. Now if I had seen this last year, I would’ve been torn to pick between the two. Both are worthy contenders to be sure, though in terms of visuals, I think this one is more unique. Props to Tomm Moore for creating yet another animated masterpiece. This is only his second directorial project, so I can’t wait to see what else he’ll tackle next!