Back in February, Song of the Sea was memorably described by one Oscar voter as “that obscure freakin’ Chinese fuckin’ thing that nobody ever freakin’ saw,” which must have come as a surprise to Kilkenny-based Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon. No matter: obscurity surely now short-lived, it richly deserved its Oscar nomination.
With a fairytale template and childlike sense of wonder, clumsy comparisons to Studio Ghibli are inevitable, but overstated; while Song of the Sea undoubtedly owes a debt to the Japanese studio, this is an Irish film, through and through. The selkies, giants, and spirits of the story are rooted in centuries of Gaelic mythology, with themes of grief and loss weaved seamlessly into the tapestry. Folkloric storytelling on a lavish canvas, it also boasts some of the most astonishing animation in recent memory – every frame could be framed. Moore’s film brims with charm, wit, emotion and magic, and should, by all measures, leave you utterly rapt. Go freakin’ see it.