Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Love isn't easy in life's last stages

Finnish director Klaus Härö's My Sailor, My Love tells the story of an aging sea captain who's given a last opportunity to find love. James Cosmo plays Howard, a retired sailor who lives in a poorly kept house on Ireland's Achill Island. Weighed down by Howard's need for care, his  daughter Grace (Catherine Walker) hires a housekeeper (Brid Brennan). Quickly (perhaps too quickly), the cantankerous Howard lowers his guard and develops a relationship with Brennan's Annie, an older widow. The relationship paves the way for another rare look at aging people who still need human contact and intimacy. The movie's piano score has a sentimental, soothing quality that works against a screenplay that tackles tough issues. A nurse by trade, Grace's over-commitment to her father's care estranges her from her husband (Aidan O'Hare) and eventually wrecks her marriage. For his part, Howard isn't totally honest with Annie nor was he a great husband to his late wife. Although Haro moves quietly through the story, he allows volatile complexities to simmer. Grace has been imprisoned by a caretaker image she can't relinquish. Genial when he begins to break through his isolation, Howard's loneliness isn't without an element of selfishness. Jealousy and recrimination surface as Grace becomes increasingly resentful of Annie's role. Haro's visual choices (shots of the rugged Irish coast serve as interludes between scenes) aren't always inspired and the movie's conclusion won't come as a surprise. Still, Haro's recognition of  double-edged emotions (love and need, for example) keep this well-acted movie from drowning in sentiment.

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