Where’er a rainbow touches earth or dives into the sea,
There our share of pain we bear in love most happily.
For as the bow that spans the sky but briefly holds earth’s hand,
So our connections slip away and often end unplanned.
Yet we don’t mourn the rainbow when its brilliant colors fade;
We find those colors elsewhere and remember them arrayed.
When grief and love remind us how the rainbow calmed our fears,
We wait through heaven’s tears for when another one appears.

Rating: PG

Based on Lillian Beckwith’s novel, A Shine of Rainbows may seem on the same level as a predictable Hallmark film, but it’s endearing enough to give you that warm satisfaction that only a good Hallmark film can.

Early on, young Tomas (John Bell) is adopted by the kindhearted Maire (Connie Nielsen), who ushers him out of the drab, unfriendly orphanage to her Irish island home. While the technique isn’t used again, this beginning mirrors other films like Pleasantville or The Wizard of Oz in emphasizing the contrast of Tomas’s near-black-and-white dejection thus far with the bright and happy colors of his new parent. The rest of the film is full of lush greens and reds and blues that carry an intentional magical quality, making the setting of this Celtic paradise the film’s greatest strength.

I was surprised to learn that John Bell, the little boy who plays Tomas, went on to play Bain, the son of Bard the Bowman in the latter two Hobbit films. Here, he is a shy and sensitive lad, coaxed to happiness by Maire and scared to silence by her husband Alec (Aidan Quinn). Tomas’s intimidation every time he sees Alec grows tiresome after a while, but Maire makes up for Alec’s coldness with warm lessons and stories. After Tomas’s initial introduction to this new family life, there’s the familiar storyline of an indifferent father figure needing to open his heart, and while I could see where the plot was going, it still carried enough heartbreak and warm fuzzies to be engaging.

To be honest, what this film most reminded me of was 2014’s animated Song of the Sea, another Irish family film with Gaelic myths of a stone giant, a distant father, and a climax involving helpful seals. Song of the Sea is much more fanciful, but the Irish accents and some of the themes kept bringing it to mind. Winsome subplots fill out the story, such as Tomas’s friendships with local kids and his care for a cute, obviously animatronic seal. While I enjoyed Song of the Sea more, A Shine of Rainbows is an appealing family drama that should please any lover of Irish scenery.

Rank: List Runner-Up

© 2015 S. G. Liput

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