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film review

Inspired by the legend of the "selkies" magical beings who live as seals in water and humans on land, Song of the Sea is a magical adventure steeped in the wondrous worlds of Irish myth.

The sea is a source of fascination and stories – often as a setting for high-waves drama, but also as a place for cover and an underwater mystery. Jules Verne knew it, Hans Christian Andersen knew it and the Beatles knew it – 'we could be warm under the storm, in our little hideaway under the waves.'

Song of the Sea, the Irish animator Tomm Moore's follow-up to 2009's Oscar-nominated The Secret of Kells, is a handcrafted cartoon charmer that tells the quirky adventure story of a seacoast boy and his tiny sister, who is the last of her kind, a song-happy but very sick seal-child.

It's a family drama – a mourning lighthouse-keeping father who lost his shape-shifting siren of a wife is emotionally an island – that is housed in ancient Irish mythology, but set against the backdrop of late 1980s Ireland.

Voice cast member Lisa Hannigan, an Irish songstress who sings here in a Celtic-ethereal style, features on a soundtrack that is mystic, eerie and freeing. Yeats is whispered: 'Come away, human child/To the water and the wild.'

Inviting? Very much so.

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