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My Sailor, My Love

MOVIE | A poignant and beautifully shot film plumbs the depths of complex human relationships

Making Movies

<em>My Sailor, My Love</em>
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Captain Howard (James Cosmo) is a crusty old widower living alone outside a remote Irish village. The visits of his daughter Grace (Catherine Walker) from the big city bring him no joy, and she wonders why she even bothers. Then one summer, everything changes. Grace hires Annie (Brid Brennan) as a housekeeper for her father, and a new spark invigorates the old man. Some viewers might wonder whether this familiar premise begins a hackneyed film, but Finnish director Klaus Härö tells a compelling story of the complexity, sorrows, and joys of human relationships in My Sailor, My Love.

Annie is warm, caring, and charming as she begins her work in the lonely house. Howard at first does not want his routine interrupted by this new intrusion, and he attempts to force Annie out. But with time, he begins to care again about life, and about other people, including Annie’s extended family and grandchildren. The house so long devoid of humanity and warmth again echoes with the laughter of children.

Meanwhile, daughter Grace has had her own challenges. Her work as a nurse requires long thankless hours, and her husband Martin wants more from life than she seems able to give. At the very start of the film, Grace is in group therapy, and she can’t even articulate why she is unhappy.

Grace begins to resent her father’s newfound happiness, ­especially as she recalls his weaknesses as a father and the failings in his relationship with her mother. Rather than rejoice in his new zest for life, she sows seeds of suspicion between Howard and Annie. In turn, Howard is not wholly open and honest with Annie, nor does he communicate fully with Grace to keep her informed of the developing relationship.

Director Härö unhurriedly leads viewers through the story to its ­conclusion in this slow-paced but compelling film. My Sailor, My Love doesn’t offer neat and tidy solutions to life’s knotty problems, which might disappoint some viewers, but it honestly depicts how difficult relationships can be. Without acknowledgment of past sins and forgiveness of one another, healthy human connections sometimes feel impossible. Annie’s inability to forgive her father and his seeming lack of concern about the past are never fully resolved, perhaps communicating how this sinful world can mar family relationships.

Regrettably, the movie normalizes intimate relations outside of marriage (Annie moves in with Howard well before he looks to make her his wife), and a character uses the Lord’s name in vain on one occasion. But on the whole, My Sailor, My Love is a poignant and beautiful film set in a stunning location.

Marty VanDriel Marty is a TV and film critic for WORLD. He is a graduate of World Journalism Institute and CEO of a custom truck and trailer building company. He and his wife, Faith, reside in Lynden, Wash., near children and grandchildren.


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