Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

By the time you read this, St. Patrick’s Day will be over. The corn beef and cabbage with exist in dribs and drabs. The potatos are crumbs.

But don’t let that stop you from watching some Irish movies. What I like are the ones that mix myth/fairy tales into real life. In the middle of land lacked farm land, we do not get seals that might be able to transform into humans.

But that is the subject of the movie Ondine starring Colin Ferrell and Alicja Bachleda. Ferrell is a down-on-his-luck fisherman in Ireland who shares his daughter with his ex. One day his nets pick up a beautiful young woman. She doesn’t want to be seen by anyone else, so Ferrell hides her in his mother’s old house.

OndineHis daughter eventually finds her and decides that the woman is a selkie. That is a seal which can take human form. A selkie cannot go back to the sea if her human husband finds and hides her seal coat. While Ferrell and Bachleda fall in love, you begin to think that maybe, just maybe, she really is a selkie.

The setting is beautiful and the dialogue feels both real and poetic. I listened to an interview with Ferrell and his conversation was never as lyrical although he is an intelligent man. Director Neil Jordan has made some movies focused on Irish ghosts (High Spirits) that were a waste of time. But this one carried me through even when the fear aspect took over the fairytale.

This movie has an adult context that would not be suitable for younger children. Older tweens and teens might enjoy it a bit more.

One movie that I like for younger children is Into The West. Gabriel Byrne stars as the father of two boys who are given a horse by their grandfather. This is not just any horse, this is Tír na nÓg who comes from the land under the sea that holds eternal youth. The problem is the motherless family lives in an apartment building in the slums of Dublin. Hiding a horse is quite difficult.

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

Worse yet, a greedy business man wants the fine horse no matter what. So he works with the police to steal the horse from the boys. But not every thing goes according to the plan. The boys steal the horse and begin riding him into the West Country of Ireland. The cops are chasing the boys down but the boys are getting help along the way. Meanwhile, other Travellers, Irish gypsies, help Dad track his boys before something dire can happen.

Again, I am lost in the mix of magic and real life. I sympathize with the depressed father who has lost his wife and wakes up only when he realizes he could lose his boys as well. I find myself cheering on the boys every time the slip out of reach of the authorities. It is movies like this that make me appreciate how magic and real life can intermingle.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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