13 May 2001 | hightswrite
Romeo and Juliet-type lovers try to survive amid the clash of ideologies.
In "This is the Sea", set in Northern Ireland, a land where the roots of enmity run deep, the young Protestant girl Hazel finds herself falling in love with the Catholic boy Malachy. Both have avoided participating in the hatred and violence that often that surrounds them, but neither can avoid being affected by them, often tragically.
The film succeeds on several levels. It is often beautifully photographed, especially the seaside scenes, and the music is wonderful. The title comes from an album by the Waterboys, a legendary Irish folk-rock band, and the band's music is used to great effect throughout the film. The time and place are well-portrayed, the burgeoning romance between the unlikely lovers grows slowly enough and with enough false starts to be realistic and not idealistic, the personal conflicts are understandable, and the ideological clashes that drive the film do not steer it wrong. Key to the film's success, however, is the fine acting all around, with solid performances by old favorites like Richard Harris and Gabriel Byrne, and a noteworthy performance by the delightful Samantha Morton.