Howard (James Cosmo), the Irish widower and retired sea captain of Klaus Haro’s bittersweet drama “My Sailor, My Love,” is furious that his daughter has hired a good-natured housekeeper named Annie (Brid Brennan), to disturb his seclusion. At first, the grump does his best to scare off the invader. “Never darken my door again!” he thunders old-fashionedly, as though he’s subconsciously aware that the writers Kirsi Vikman and Jimmy Karlsson are drawing on centuries of love stories about savage men and civilizing women. The production designer John Hand has even worked in a nod to the rose from “Beauty and the Beast.”
The curveball is that after rushing the romance (the brute is tamed in a week!), Haro shifts his attention back to the daughter, Grace (Catherine Walker), who is unfairly, but understandably, aggrieved. Her father’s always treated her cruelly — how dare he be kind to someone else?! Grace’s resentment is an astute twist. Imagine Disney’s singing teapot enrolling in primal scream therapy, except when Grace attends a support group for women who’ve given too much, she can’t let out her steam.
Life, and the film’s costume design, haven’t been fair to Walker’s self-sacrificing miserablist. (When can we stop dressing this kind of character in wan beige and headache-inducing braids?) Every one of her scenes is an indignity overemphasized by a strings and piano score that needs to ease up. The painful dynamic is credible; the dialogue not so much. Still, the actors are in full command of our empathy, especially Brennan’s gray-haired caretaker who, when she cracks open her heart, seems to glow from within.
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