Song of the Sea (2014) Review

Director: Tomm Moore

Runtime: 93 minutes

Cast: David Rawle, Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan, Lisa Hannigan, Lucy O’Connell, et al…

Plot (taken from IMDb): Ben, a young Irish boy, and his little sister Saoirse, a girl who can turn into a seal, go on an adventure to free the faeries and save the spirit world.


Not often does a film come around that moves you deeply, nor are there that many films that captivate you from start to finish – Song of the Sea does both. This Irish animation is a spectacular piece of art that will be fun for the whole family.

It all starts off rather dark. Ben (David Rawle) is being told a bed-time story by his pregnant mother (Lisa Hannigan) all about the magic of their beloved little island and Ireland. It all sounds fanciful, but awfully exciting. Sadly, she passes away giving birth to Ben’s little sister Saoirse (Lucy O’Connell). It’s like something straight out of a Pixar film. The two kids are then brought up by their father (Brendan Gleeson) – a stoic, but damaged man after the death of his wife who has little time for his kids’ constant bickering.


Ben isn’t too fond of Saoirse, sharing a larger bond with his dog. We see the children move to the town on the mainland with their grandmother (Fionnula Flanagan), as a lighthouse is supposedly no place for kids to live, especially after Saoirse turns into a seal and swims through the ocean. Her curious mind led her to find an old, seemingly magical coat that belonged to her mother. Ben is up for adventure, but finds the wandering nature of Saoirse irritating. Unluckily for him, his dog is not allowed to go with them to live in the town.

Saoirse’s wandering nature leads the two children to leave the comfort of their grandmother’s home, which kicks off their magical adventure across Ireland. This is where the excitement starts. I really don’t want to go into much more detail about the plot, as it’s so good that I don’t want to spoil anything else. Let’s just say that across their travels, Ben and Saoirse have to learn to work together and come across many colourful, wonderful characters. It’s a whimsical story full of humour, magic and poignant moments.


Indeed, the best word to describe Song of the Sea is whimsical. Often, films can be peppered with fleeting, beautiful moments – Song of the Sea is one 93-minute-long beautiful moment. This is a piece of art. Imagery is poignant, with beautiful scenery behind bright, colourful characters. It’s a truly magnificent thing to watch. The wonder of the plot and its characters is made even stronger by the mesmerising images flowing beautifully across the screen.

The soundtrack, too, is worth a mention. It is brilliant. Song of the Sea is a treat for the ears as much as it is a treat for the eyes. It’s a remarkable film. One that you don’t want to end. It’s a pity that we only get to spend 93 minutes gawking at Song of the Sea’s beautiful imagery. This captivating Irish animation is a step above its competition, in my mind moving beyond the works of Studio Ghibli and maybe even Pixar.


Awarding Song of the Sea a five out of five really doesn’t do it justice. It’s beautiful, moving, captivating and funny all at once – filmmaking at its best.


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