When the critics were going gaga over The Secret of the Kells, I was somewhat dismissive: I liked the little movie (78 minutes!) but I thought they were just showing their hipster cred by preferring the simple animation which (as I noted at the time) was very much like "Samurai Jack". Just about five years later and we're so inundated with rich, vibrant CGI—even in bad animated movies—something like Song of the Sea comes along, and its simplicity is refreshing.
The story concerns an angry young boy who blames his little sister for the death of their mother. The two live with their father in a lighthouse, with the father mostly moping around, except one night a year—his daughter's birthday, and the anniversary of his wife's death—where he goes to mope in a bar in town.
But the daughter isn't quite normal, and her love of the sea ultimately frightens her grandmother so much, she convinces the father to let her keep them in town. This proves to be harmful to the girl and the brother is convinced she has to get back to the sea in order to live, and to save...well, everything.
So, road picture!
In keeping with the Gaelic themes of Secret of the Kells, there are magical forces at work here.
It's a good story. There's a strong emotional element, between brother and sister, between husband and wife, and between mother and children across three generations. It has a kind of epic feel to it, but stays very close to the main characters at all times, so it connects well.
I have not seen Studio Ghibli's The Tale of Princess Kaguya yet, and I'm sure I'll like it. But I don't think it'll take the crown of Best Animated Feature for 2014.
Brendan Gleeson and Fionnula Flanagan play the lighthouse keeper and his mother respectively, reprising their relationship from The Guard.