Brief Thoughts: Song of the Sea (Movie Review)

I really enjoy putting my reviews together.  I honestly wish I could delve deeper into certain movies, but alas, I get incredibly busy and can sometimes only deal with movies to a briefer extent than I would prefer.  This is why I write these occasional "Brief Thoughts" posts on movies I have seen, as I want to at least offer some of my own perspective on them.  They may not be as polished, but I can at least get my opinions out there. This brief thought is a film review for the Oscar nominated Song of the Sea.

Song of the Sea: 3 1/2 out of 5

Since the Academy Awards established the Best Animated Feature category, we may have had some obvious winners, but have occasionally gotten away from the standard Disney and Pixar picks (though many of those Pixar wins are well-deserved) and seen the inclusion of various foreign and weirder nominees.  I could talk all day about my love for Academy Award winner Rango, as well as continually praise the work of two-time nominee Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets of Belleville and The Illusionist), but for this mini-review, I am here to discuss Song of the Sea, from now two-time nominee Tomm Moore.  The story is based around the Celtic myth of the selkie and a young girl who has a connection to the fantastical world.  There is much more to this plot, which also involves a widower (voiced with plenty of emotion by Brendan Gleeson), the young girl's older brother, and a number of mystical characters, but it has enough in the way of developments that I would rather people just see it for themselves, if they are interested.

What I can go into is the quality of the film overall, which has me wanting to mainly focus on the animation and the appeal.  From a visual standpoint, this is a nice, simple, and refreshing film. Director Tomm Moore previously made The Secret of Kells and those familiar with that film will likely be at home with what they see here.  There is a unique handling of character design, as well as the various ways we see new locations in this film, which creates an animation aesthetic that is very specific to the films of Tomm Moore, which is always something I find neat in filmmakers known for their animated work.  As much as I may like the continual advances in animation technology, seeing auteurs emerge from the animated world is also quite interesting, regardless of whether or not it is traditional animation or otherwise.

The film is also plenty charming.  Perhaps not as charming as The Lego Movie (that's an understatement for me), but it is very likable and emotional, given the nature of the story.  If anything, Song of the Sea gets the most mileage out of the music.  The use of score and songs does a lot to make the film rather appealing and something I could easily see many respond too.  Couple that with the reserved sense of humor the film has and a surprising amount of tension in the third act, and you have a film that does plenty to get across a level of charm and fun, regardless of how overly complicated its seemingly simple story may be.

I liked Song of the Sea well enough and it is nice to see a film like this get a bump in viewership thanks to something like the Academy Awards giving it more attention.  It's not one of my favorite animated films from last year, but it is certainly charming enough to deserve an audience.


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