Review: My Sailor, My Love

Directed by Klaus Härö and written by Jimmy Karlsson and Kirsi Vikman, a retired sea captain and his daughter must reassess their strained relationship after he begins a new romance with a widowed housekeeper. Starring: James Cosmo, Brid Brennan, Catherine Walker and Nora-Jane Noone.

You could potentially create a whole subgenre of cinema based purely off of cantankerous elderly characters who have their lives turned to the better by a new companion. It’s done so often because it is undeniably satisfying to see someone so stubborn and mean turned to the light through kindness and hope. That’s exactly what you get with My Sailor, My Love, Howard (James Cosmo) is in a blunt, grumpy rut feeling like he’s just waiting for the end, until Annie (Brid Brennan) walks into his life. Interestingly though that’s only half of the story, the other being the huge conflict and resentment which lies between Howard and his daughter Grace (Catherine Walker). It’s an extremely complex relationship which brings a lot of tension and emotion, but it also creates a quandary for the film’s tone.

Usually with this type of film, it’s a one way journey from dislike to warmth with a typically grumpy turned romantic character. For My Sailor, My Love, it’s not so simple and sadly, that’s a big obstacle for the film, one that it never truly conquers. The story opens up Howard’s character and begins that road to likability but the more that it reveals about him and his relationship with his daughter, it’s a constant game of one step forward, two steps back. Battling between asking viewers for sympathy and giving you reason to dislike him. That alongside framing Grace in a surprisingly negative light for the entirety of the film makes it seem like it’s confused about how it wants you to feel, or even that it’s unaware of its overall tone.

It’s a shame as all of it is given a stunning backdrop which lovingly captures a small, isolated and picturesque community. The colouring and cinematography perfectly reflect the sentimental, emotional nature to the story. The performances are also all extremely strong, James Cosmo gives another reliably great portrayal which manages to capture that mix of conflict to his personality. Brid Brennan overflows Annie with kindness and generosity, making it all the more interesting when she has to grapple with some ethical questions. Catherine Walker then adds her own breed of intensity with Grace, it’s a bottling up of a lifetime of resentment, underappreciation and rejection. Walker brings a fantastic physicality to it, using every tool at her disposal to communicate Grace’s struggle. Nora-Jane Noone is also a nice addition as a voice of reason in Kelly, forever keeping the middle ground.

My Sailor, My Love is both a blossoming romance and an intense family drama but the two don’t always compliment one another. There’s an inherent conflict in how the filmmakers are trying to present these characters and it undermines the film as a whole, and unsatisfyingly feels as though it pits its lead women against each other unnecessarily. It’s an issue which for some viewers may go entirely unnoticed through its rosy tint, cute atmosphere and terrific cast. For others, it can create a slightly sour note which throws things off balance.

Verdict: ✯✯✯ | 6/10

Reviewed as part of Glasgow Film Festival 2023
In UK Cinemas 10 March

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s