9 August 2009 | wuxmup
Outstanding, low-key Irish legend
"The Seventh Stream" is beautifully filmed with a deeply romantic score and a story comes from the same vein of Irish folklore that inspired 1994's "Secret of Roan Inish," another good family movie but not, I think, quite as atmospheric or nearly as moving as "The Seventh Stream." Both films are based on the legend of the selkies - gray seals who sometimes take human form, come ashore and interact with humans. The production values are very superior for a made-for-cable flick.
Saffron Burrows is nothing short of remarkable as the seal-woman. Viewers drugged by the over-the-top acting styles of so many movies may find her performance too subdued, too quiet, but that's their problem. Some kind of emotion is constantly flickering across her face, which is amazingly expressive. She's by turns mysterious, cold, curious, sultry, beautiful, vulnerable, weird - everything you'd expect to see in a seal-girl.
In a less fascinating role, Scott Glenn too is convincing and sympathetic as the hardscrabble middle-aged fisherman to whom the selkie turns for help. There's a lot of talk about the human heart, none of it sappy. Aside from one or two minor cultural goofs that few will care about, the film depicts pretty plausibly life in an Irish fishing village a hundred years ago.
There are also one or two minor directorial lapses. When fate deals unkindly with one of the characters, he cries out "Nooooooooooooooo!" in ultra slow-mo. Just like in The Simpsons and elsewhere. But the embarrassing moments take up about two minutes in total, and none is as bad as that.The rest of the film could hardly be improved on as a serious fairy tale for the whole family, unless your family is deeply into pro wrestling and stuff like that.
One of the most moving fantasy films I've seen, definitely not sugary or maudlin, and not oozing with CGI.
Check it out! I bet they were going to call it originally "The Seventh Seal," but found out that title was taken.