Sydney Film Festival Reviewed

We reviewed some of the most buzzed films at this year's festival, including 'Dope', 'Ruben Guthrie', 'Gayby Baby' and 'Holding The Man'. Many were excellent. Some were not.

The Film That Will Make You Call Your Relatives And Demand A Cosy, Blanketed Sunday Movie Night:


Song of the Sea, dir. Tomm Moore

Starring: Voices of Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan

Reviewed by: Matt Roden

With word that the next Studio Ghibli film may be their last in a long while, fans of sweetly surreal and melancholic 2D animation can be found around the world, weeping softly into their fuzzy racoon-cat-bear toys and softly asking the sky spirits: “What now?”

This lovely little film may be the answer. After a couple of decades of computer animation ruling the roost (via the odd resurgence of stop motion), Song of the Sea hits upon nearly everything that the best hand-drawn animated family films do well. Sea is immersed in the constant frustrations and triumphs of childhood, wonders at the fantastic yet comforting world of folklore, and its landscapes are masterpieces of lush palettes and fine line work.

Nominated, but largely ignored, at the Oscars this year, Song of the Sea centres on the myth of the selkie, a Celtic seal creature with a magical song that can free the lost souls of the faerie world. Re-imagined as a contemporary family comedy/adventure, Sea begins with Spielbergian sibling squabbling, drifts into wacky Saturday morning slapstick, and then rounds out proceedings with some epic magical set pieces.

While it’s maybe not as thematically mature as Pixar’s offerings, or as far out bizarre as Ghibli’s best work, Song of the Sea will still hit you hard if you’ve not talked to your sister in a while. Bonus points: its resolutely sincere tone will hopefully cure young ones infected by that ever creeping tween-age sarcastic twang. Come for the beautiful Carson Ellis like backdrops, and stay for the clever way it weaves traditional tales into a modern day fable.

For fans of: The Wildwood YA series, Irish folk music, borrowing kids to take to films that actually you just want see

Opening in Australia: TBC

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