My Sailor, My Love Parent Guide
Well written and flawlessly acted, this thoughtful film explores the contradictions within its characters' personalities and their relationships.
Parent Movie Review
Grace (Catherine Walker) is burning out. The dedicated nurse goes above and beyond, providing kindness as well as care to her patients. At home, she grapples with a growing void in her marriage. Parallel to her daily concerns is the constant nagging worry about her elderly father, retired sailor, Howard (James Cosmo).
Howard lives on the outskirts of a windblown village on Ireland’s coast, in a house that is increasingly dirty and disordered. On one of her regular visits, Grace hires Annie (Brid Brennan) as housekeeper. Howard objects vigorously and moves beyond his normal curmudgeonly behavior and straight into hostility in his treatment of her. Annie stands up for herself, Howard sees sense, and soon the seaside house is bright, clean, and filled with good food and laughter.
As Annie brightens Howard’s world, Grace finds herself tangled in a web of contradictory emotions – relief, anger, jealousy, impotence. Her mixed feelings towards her father rise to the surface and Grace, the ever-helpful daughter, becomes a much more ambiguous figure.
One of the most intriguing parts of this film is its exploration of its characters’ contradictions. Even good people can do awful things, without turning into figures of evil. Howard, convivial at parties, appreciative to Annie, and good with children, can also be gruff, domineering, and selfish. Grace, who leans into martyrdom, also desperately wants recognition and appreciation for her selflessness, which, combined with her need for control, turns cruel. This movie could easily have veered into psychological horror but it takes a more subtle road, simply looking at the potential we all have to mask our selfishness in rationalizations and self-deception. It’s scarier than the average horror flick, simply because it’s more frequently encountered in real life.
As for realism, the rest of the movie delivers a strong sense of authenticity. The acting is superb. James Cosmo is a shambling bear of a man, convincingly arrogant, oblivious, and regretful. He physically dominates his scenes, effectively projecting Howard’s outsized personality. Catherine Walker delivers a tense, brittle Grace, as tightly wound as the braids that coil around her head. She flings words like knives and cares for her father with a side order of bitterness. There’s no escaping the pain that interlaces this small family’s dynamic.
My Sailor, My Love is a film for mature audiences, not due to negative content (which is minimal) but because the story is too nuanced and slow-moving for younger viewers. It explores complicated family dynamics, the challenges of aging, the dangers of self-deception, and our ability to hurt those we love. The story also delivers a hopeful message of the power of human connection and our need to broaden our perspectives on others and ourselves. This is no sugary romance full of rainbows and violins; it’s a bittersweet story of love, loss, and growth along the ragged edges of our lives. This is a tale well told and worth watching.
Directed by Klaus Haro. Starring James Cosmo, Brid Bernnan, Catherine Walker. Running time: 103 minutes. Theatrical release October 24, 2023. Updated November 1, 2023
Watch the trailer for My Sailor, My Love
My Sailor, My Love
Rating & Content Info
Violence: There’s mention of a death by drowning. There’s non-detailed discussion of an abusive marriage. There is a narrowly averted traffic accident. A dead person is briefly visible on screen: there is no disturbing detail. Participants in group therapy scream.
Sexual Content: Men and women kiss. An unmarried couple shares a bed but no sexual activity is seen.
Profanity: There are four terms of deity and five minor profanities in the script.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults drink alcohol in social settings and sometimes appear a little tipsy.
Page last updated November 1, 2023
My Sailor, My Love Parents' Guide
Grace and Howard are both carrying baggage from earlier years. What drives Grace’s resentment towards her father? What continues to feed it? Why do you think she continues to look after him? How do her feelings influence the care she provides? How does Howard justify his past? How does his behavior then influence his actions now?
What do Howard and Annie see in each other? What pulls them apart? What benefits do each of theme receive from the relationship?