Starring: James Cosmo, Brid Brennan, Catherine Walker
Runtime: 93 mins. Reviewed in Sep 2023
Reviewer: Fr Peter Malone msc
In sombre County Mayo, an old sailor in retirement and his daughter must reassess their strained relationship after he begins a new romance.
Here is a drama that can be recommended for the whole target audience. This is the coproduction between Ireland and Finland, but with Irish characters and an Irish setting, the beauty of the County Mayo coast and islands, mostly overcast and cloudy, perhaps symbolic of the lives that the people lead.
At the centre of the film is an old sea captain, Howard (veteran character actor Cosmo). He has retired but has many memories of his days at sea, sad memories of the death of his wife, abrupt and sometimes resentful of the care from his daughter, Grace (Walker). He does have two other sons but they turn up only for his birthday. He is gruff, self-contained, but, in some surprising moments, we see him telling fanciful adventure stories to some little girls of the family at the local pub.
There is some identification with Howard, but wariness about him and his gruffness. His exasperated daughter arranges for a local woman, Annie (Brennan) to come twice a week for housekeeping – and is almost immediately ousted by Howard. Fortunately, Howard comes to his senses and apologises to Annie who let him know how hurt she is.
But, returns to work for him and we see how Howard mellows (perhaps a bit too dramatically quickly for the film). It is a joy to see him come alive. Annie hears his story and that of the death of his wife, he hears about her unhappy marriage and her husband’s death. It is a joy to see them sharing so much.
Parallel to this story is Grace’s story. Her marriage is breaking and therapy does not help. She is fired from her work at the hospital. She employs Annie and, perhaps to be expected but regrettably so, her bad reaction to finding the bond between Annie and her father, denouncing her father is a self-centred man in the past, suggesting that he is exploiting Annie.
All of us who have had sadness in the past in our lives will be caught in the emotional crossfire, empathising with one, empathising with another, trying to understand what is going on.
We get to like Howard very much, even as we acknowledge his being away from his family at sea, even more so as the years passed, the teenage Grace looking after her mother, welcoming her father home, a sense of obligation to care for him in his age and health situation. And we get to like Grace, her joy in her experience of getting to know and love Howard.
So, here is a film that can be recommended to an older audience with no off-putting violence, sex or coarse language. The film has a PG rating because of mild mature themes.
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