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Movie Review: A Shine of Rainbows

April 9, 2010

A Shine of Rainbows – An E1 Films’ Release

Release Date: April 9th, 2010

Rated PG

Running time: 103 minutes


Vic Sarin (dir.)

Vic Sarin (writer)

Catherine Spear (writer)

Dennis Foon (writer)


Lillian Beckwith (novel – A Shine of Rainbows)


Keith Power (music)


Connie Nielsen as Maire

Aidan Quinn as Alec

John Bell as Tomás

Jack Gleeson as Seamus

Tara Alice Scully as Nancy

Niamh Shaw as Katie


Photo courtesy of E1 Entertainment

John Bell and Connie Nielsen star in A Shine of Rainbows.

*Read our interview with director Vic Sarin, here!*


Our reviews below:


A Shine of Rainbows Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

The first time we see newcomer John Bell in A Shine of Rainbows, we see an orphan filled with longing.  When we first see Aidan Quinn, playing the boy’s adoptive father, we see resentment.  And the first time we see Connie Nielson, playing the boy’s adoptive mother, we see someone filled with magic.  The kind of magic that can change someone’s life, by just allowing them to be themselves.


Maire, (played by Danish actress Connie Nielson, with a flawless Irish accent), always dreamed of having a son.  When she wasn’t able to conceive, she goes to an orphanage and adopts Tomás, (played wonderfully by newcomer John Bell), a frail, shy orphan, who is the subject of relentless bullying at the orphanage.  Alec, (Aiden Quinn – cold, but with a heart), resents his wife’s choice, and was hoping for a strong child who could help out around the farm.


Taking place on Corrie Island, just off the coast of Ireland, the colour palate of the film is just magnificent.  Some may consider the story to be cloying and contrived – it’s not.  It’s too sincere and real for that.  The beautiful scenery, and wonderful performances, put us under a spell.  I cared for these characters.  It’s amazing how something that may not seem like much on the outside, can end up being so powerful and moving.


It doesn’t “keep out all the sadness,” to quote the great Where the Wild Things Are, but it’s nothing a kid above 7 or 8 can’t handle.  There is some heartbreak, yes, but what great family film doesn’t have a touch of sadness?  A Shine of Rainbows is a wonderful, moving and heartwarming film, that every kid, above a certain age, should see.  This is a magical film that takes its place among the greats of family cinema, like Finding Neverland.


A Shine of Rainbows Review by Erin V.

***3/4 (out of 4)

In A Shine of Rainbows, Tomás, (John Bell), is an orphaned boy living at a boarding school, until he’s adopted by Marie, (Connie Nielsen), and Alec, (Aidan Quinn), a couple, without any children of their own, living on the remote Irish island of Corrie.  Marie feels to Tomás like a real mother fairly quickly, but Alec on the other hand is having a bit of trouble warming up to this new shy kid.  Eventually Tomás comes out of his shell more, and makes friends with some of the other kids living on the island.  A Shine of Rainbows is a beautiful story of love, loss, and family.


The cinematography of Ireland is truly beautiful, and all of the actors really fit their roles.  Unlike in some films with child actors, none of the kids cast in this film step wrong – they are all believable as real kids, and not actors.  The lead, John Bell, has actually only appeared in this film, and does exceptionally well here.


I also enjoyed hearing the soundtrack to this film, but I am partial to Irish music.  Overall, I think this is a very well made film.  It’s not often that we see a low-key film for families nowadays.  A Shine of Rainbows is one that you can take the kids (8+) to, and all will enjoy.


A Shine of Rainbows Review By Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

A Shine of Rainbows is a quiet, low-key family film.  Based on the book of the same name, this film tells the story of an orphan boy, Tomás (John Bell), and his wish for a family.  Tomás is a shy boy, who doesn’t like to speak much because of his disfluency.  A kindly woman (Connie Nielson) from Corrie Island takes him as her son.  Her husband (Aidan Quinn), however, isn’t really warming up to him.  He wanted an older son to help care for his wife.


Tomás really grows attached to his new mother, and the new town.  The neighbour’s children bring him on many exciting and scary adventures, and he grows to love the many animals in Corrie, including an orphan seal that he cares for.  His mom explains that seals can take messages to those who have died.  Things go well for Tomás, until something very sad happens.  Can the seal help Tomás officially become part of his new family?


A Shine of Rainbows, while predictable, is a lovely movie for anyone from 8 years to seniors.  The acting is good, the score is lovely, and the scenery and animals are just beautiful.  A Shine of Rainbows is definitely worth seeing.


A Shine of Rainbows Review By Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

Being of Irish heritage I may be somewhat biased, but A Shine of Rainbows is one of the nicest most beautifully filmed movies about love and family bonding that I’ve seen in a long time.


Based on a novel, A Shine of Rainbows is about an 8 year old orphan, Tomás (John Bell) who was always picked on because of a speech impairment.  Tomás is adopted by Maire (Connie Nielson) and is brought back with her to a wonderfully rugged coastal town on Corrie Island.  Tomás struggles with warming up to Maire’s husband, Alec (Aiden Quinn) but finds solace and peace in the nature and animals around his new home.  At one point in the story Tomás finds a beached baby seal.  He names the seal Smudge and takes it upon himself to look after the abandoned seal.  Tomás is told of the local’s belief that seals are messengers between the living and those who have passed on.  When his new life is threatened by sad events, the seals are instrumental in turning things around.


A Shine of Rainbows is a gentle, evenly paced film.  The story never descends into melodrama and the acting is genuine and believably Irish.  Young John Bell who plays Tomás is especially good.  The real beauty here is the cinematography.  Director Vic Sarin has captured the natural beauty of coastal Ireland.  The visual beauty is matched perfectly with a lovely Celtic score by Keith Power.  This is one of those movies that the whole family can enjoy together and come away feeling closer than ever.  A Shine of Rainbows is a very special film.


A Shine of Rainbows Review By Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

A Shine of Rainbows is a simple story, beautifully told, of a sensitive boy adopted from an orphanage and taken to an island off the Irish coast.  Maire (Connie Nielsen) chose little Tomás (John Bell) as her son, but her taciturn husband Alec (Aidan Quinn) was slow to warm up to him.  Despite an initial shyness, Tomás adapts well to his new life, ready to face the challenges that follow.


The most universal themes can often best be treated by the most localized examples, so with its excellent cast, A Shine of Rainbows is a very moving film, which only the worst of cynics might dismiss as a corny family values story.  Canadian director Vic Sarin has taken great care with every detail of Irish country life, filmed mainly in County Donegal, a part of the Irish Republic that lies north of Northern Ireland (just as Detroit is north of Windsor).  A careful choice of film stock and colour palettes to suit the changing moods of the story makes it a beautiful film to watch  A good Irish dialect coach imparted enough of a Donegal flavour to the actors’ speech to sound authentic while remaining intelligible to outsiders, a credit to the Danish Nielsen, Irish-American Quinn and Scottish Bell.  The fine Celtic musical score adds to the visual pleasure and lilt of the dialogue.


Vic Sarin recommends that the full visual impact of A Shine of Rainbows is best seen in theatres, but given the limited release that such a film may get, you may have to wait for the discs.


Consensus: With beautiful scenery of coastal Ireland, strong performances and a wonderful message, director Vic Sarin’s A Shine of Rainbows is a truly special film for the whole family. ***1/2 (Out of 4)

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