James Cosmo, the reliable supporting hands of so many great movies from the 1990s, is finally given his chance to shine. He had been afforded this before but My Sailor, My Love feels befitting of both his skills as a performer and respectful of which roles he can adapt to best. Howard, the retired sea captain who longs for affection and for companionship at any cost, is a brutal story with self-value assessed as best as director Klaus Härö can. Within his tactful display of Irish culture is the feelings of isolation which flow at any age, but particularly in one usually engulfed in the grief of loss. Divorce or death is a separation from love and My Sailor, My Love has all the poetry it needs in a relatively simple title to stick it out a little further.
But the real meat of the piece comes from those heartbreaking introductions Härö is keen to display. Sprawling landscapes bring about the natural beauty of nature and pleasant fields in the Banshees of Inisherin form of isolation with a few close pals. Modernise it and throw a yellow Renault in there, and nature is given the chance to heal and grow. People reject and react to all the wrong parts of their world and then give themselves ample time to reflect on their poor choices years, if not decades later. Cosmo represents this with charming consistency here, a real force of a performer and a display of a quiet man who rejects those who love him in the vain hope of following something he cannot have.
Catherine Walker shows this doting daughter, the fear of being left behind after not knowing what to do with a loved one they hold dear. In this comes the fractured lines and the triangle which presents some strange and vibrant love, familial and beyond. Heartless for being set in routine and living in some strange halfway between survival and death. Retirement is an early death anyway. Isolation is the slow burial of the self and soul because routine takes us on through tortured paths. Cosmo displays this nicely and the relationship, the dynamic and fresh experiences Catherine Walker’s portrayal of Grace throws at Howard (Cosmo) is delicate and considered. It looks lovely too, to see salmon cooked in pans of old houses which, when cleaned up, spark with vibrancy and colour.
Everyone will find themselves off the beaten path and stumbling around in search of new meaning at some point. When, not if. My Sailor, My Love brings itself to those latter stages of life where the feeling still matters and the awkward attraction which stems not from mutual love but from isolation, from fear. It is a testament to the abilities of Cosmo and Walker, whose pairing here elicits the same desired heartbreak of 45 Years from all those indie years ago. A few dramatic turns in the latter stages begin to play up the inevitable, but the grief at this stage is too far gone to go anywhere else and at the very least, May Sailor, My Love decides to go for it, loose conviction but satisfying conclusions in equal measure.