Love in a Neil Jordan film is almost always impossible: a guy falls for another man’s wife, or for his own mother, or (unwittingly) for another guy, or for the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In his new film, a beautiful woman (Alicja Bachleda) plops into a fisherman’s net and says, “I’m yours forever.” What could be easier than that? Plenty, it turns out. For one thing, the guy (Colin Farrell) is Irish. Also, his name is Syracuse, which everyone shortens to “Circus” because he acts like a clown. And there are the usual family problems. His consist of a boozy ex-wife and an overly precocious daughter, Annie (Alison Barry), in a wheelchair; hers are murkier, what with that creepy stranger hanging around.
Finally, there’s the myth of the selkie, the race of Celtic seal women whose checkered dealings with landsmen Annie has been reading up on at the library. Charming as always, Jordan goes a little easier on his foolish mortals this time, but only at the expense of increased melodrama, cliché, and sentimentality.