Published Sep 09, 2009Amongst its many virtues, one of the greatest things about A Shine of Rainbows is its depiction of childhood shyness and insecurity, with the lack of a reliable male role model leading to a generalized fear of men. Children are typically handled without complexity, relegated to "the precocious twit," "the surprising genius" or "the two-dimensional bully." Here, Tomas (John Bell), our protagonist, comes with a history of rejection and uncertainty bubbling beneath the surface, struggling to meet the demands of a typical social framework.
Things start out with his adoption by the patient and nurturing Maire (Connie Nielsen), with whom Tomas develops an immediate bond, finding a new life with her on Corrie Island, off the coast of Ireland. While their relationship blossoms, Maire's curmudgeonly and solipsistic husband (Aidan Quinn) makes things difficult by not signing the adoption papers, disappointed with the boy's unconventional disposition.
Initially examining Tomas's introduction to the magic of the island seals and rock formations, along with some peer bonding while Maire's husband, Alec, slowly warms up, the film takes a turn for the weepy when illness strikes. At this, the film is unrelenting and truly heartbreaking, but all the more memorable for it.
Through gorgeous island cinematography and a slow but deliberate pace, Rainbows sure-footedly delivers a story of overcoming inner obstacles and making the most of the few fleeting moments of meaning on this Earth. The journey here is that of an uncertain boy maintaining hope and believing, against all odds.
Littered with Irish tunes and Celtic dancing, this is an admittedly European foray into children's cinema, never devolving into generic hokum, regardless of a mid-movie rescued seal pup. A Shine of Rainbows is a thoughtful family film that doesn't cop out on harsh realities, giving a little something to old and young viewers alike. (E1)