This Oscar-nominated Irish animation Song of the Sea ** has echoes of Ponyo and Studio Ghibli in its folkloric story of a little girl called back to the sea.
It’s rooted in the Celtic tales of the mermaid-like Selkie and tells of Conor, a lighthouse keeper (voiced by Brendan Gleeson), mourning the death of his beautiful wife.
Conor’s fearsome mother arrives to take his children – Ben and silent little Saorsie – away from their island outpost and to the city, but the call of the tides and the cute little seals are too much for the kids, who go through a series of magical, twinkly Oirish adventures to escape and return to the waves.
Tomm Moore’s animation style is blocky and beautiful in its way and there is plenty of emotion sloshing around. Cute and sweetly moving rather than funny, the film goes for an ageless charm – I feel like I’m supposed to like it, but I just didn’t find it particularly interesting or surprising. And the tiddly-fiddly folk music got really annoying.