Song of the Sea (2014)

I wished I liked this film. Much like The Secret of Kells, I’m in awe of the animation. It can be hard to make a distinctive style in animation that’s good, but Cartoon Saloon certainly has achieved that. It’s got a nice storybook look to it, with these beautiful, round and bold shapes. On a visual level, it’s a wonderful treat.

But the storytelling is not there. I appreciate moments of it, but everything comes across as a bit too simplistic. Characters are painted in broad strokes, the worst offender being the grandma which comes across as this grumpy old women when the film could have given her a lot more complexity.

The plot also just brings up stuff as needed as opposed to actually laying a solid groundwork. Any turn of the story is simply at the slightest whim and lacks a decent structure. I forgot a good deal of what happened after about five minutes because it was completely unremarkable, much like The Secret of Kells. I couldn’t tell you a single thing that happened in this or Kells, only that I know it looked really pretty.

I do want the best for this studio because 2D animation is such a tiny size of the animation landscape right now. I think Tomm Moore’s writing on both projects is lackluster and I’m glad he’ll be shifted to a producer role for their next film. With a new writer and a new director, I could see this studio making great things. Right now there’s a lot of growing pains.

© 2016 James Blake Ewing