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Based in Northern Ireland during the ceasefire between catholic and loyalist terrorist groups, this film brings together two people living completely separate ways of life. Hazel (Samantha Morton) is a sweet young protestant girl living in the countryside outside Belfast. Her mother's strong religious beliefs give little scope for Hazel to do her own thing, but she is helped by her less strict father and local friend of the family, Old Man Jacobs (Richard Harris) who accompanies her on trips to Belfast. Here she meets Malachy, a young catholic lad whose life is surrounded by those involved in terrorist groups, while he himself does his best to steer clear of it. Malachy falls for Hazel, but courtship is difficult. Fortunately, old Man Jacobs assists Hazel in her desire to meet up with Malachy, but is all as innocent as it looks? A contrast between a nice romance and the terrorist underworld, giving the impression that no matter who you are in Northern Ireland, terrorism is never far away from your doorstep.
In "This is the Sea", set in Northern Ireland, a land where the roots of
enmity run deep, the young Protestant girl Hazel finds herself falling in
love with the Catholic boy Malachy. Both have avoided participating in the
hatred and violence that often that surrounds them, but neither can avoid
being affected by them, often tragically.
The film succeeds on several levels. It is often beautifully photographed, especially the seaside scenes, and the music is wonderful. The title comes from an album by the Waterboys, a legendary Irish folk-rock band, and the band's music is used to great effect throughout the film. The time and place are well-portrayed, the burgeoning romance between the unlikely lovers grows slowly enough and with enough false starts to be realistic and not idealistic, the personal conflicts are understandable, and the ideological clashes that drive the film do not steer it wrong. Key to the film's success, however, is the fine acting all around, with solid performances by old favorites like Richard Harris and Gabriel Byrne, and a noteworthy performance by the delightful Samantha Morton.
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