Next up on the list of heart-breaking 2020's movies using an Irish island as a microcosm for wider issues, we have the charming My Sailor, My Love, starring James Cosmo as Howard, Catherine Walker as his daughter Grace, and Brid Brennan as Annie, the lively housekeeper who soon starts a relationship with the grumpy old man she was meant to leave alone. The film boasts some fantastic performances; however, they needed a chance to be fleshed more to allow for greater impact, and the characters may have been more likeable with some breathing space to get to know them.
In the opening scene, the beautiful isle of Achill and Howard's coastal home is established as our main setting, and we meet two of our three leads. Grace brings Howard a birthday cake, only to be met with grumbles in response while her wealthy brother, who we then do not see again, is met with smiles and a hug. Howard's home is a mess and his interactions with Grace are strained, revealing him to be an avoidant, ungrateful, and negligent man to himself and others. It is quickly revealed that Grace is burning the candle at both ends juggling her difficult marriage, nursing job, and old father, who she takes after more than she may care to admit.
Once Grace brings Annie in to tidy her father's home and bring in shopping, the film begins to move forward. Their relationship reinvigorates Howard, but Grace, knowing her father, is worried for Annie. But ultimately more so for herself as she feels further rejected by her father after working so hard to help him. Howard is more interested in Annie's grandchildren than his own children, and while Grace's life begins to fall apart, she reaches for her father but finds he is preoccupied.
It was interesting how much we saw of both Howard and Grace's separate lives, but ultimately this was a bit much for My Sailor My Love's 1hr 42mins run time, and despite the fantastic work of the cast there was just not enough time given to show their respective relationships progress and break down. It was hard to understand either Howard or Grace's motivations for most of what they said and did, and ultimately this made it difficult to empathise with either character. Annie was, however, a lovable breath of fresh air breathing new life into the dark and tense home, and this effect will not be lost on audiences as she brings a voice of reason and some needed joy to the film.
Moments were utterly heart-breaking, but others immensely charming, all set against the rolling hills and crashing waves of Achill making every argument on the driveway or gaze at the sunset that bit more cinematic. Ultimately, the film should have focused on either Howard or Grace a bit more or fleshed out the beginnings of Howard and Annie's relationship in particular, but it was an interesting approach and while not a feel-good-film the performances and stunning cinematography carry it as an emotional and thoughtful drama.
Signature Entertainment releases My Sailor, My Love nationwide on March 10th.