It's fair to say that Irish filmmaker Colin Hickey has a bit of an unusual cinematic voice. Hickey is less concerned with cohesive narrative storytelling than with the more experimental side of cinema that requires full-on immersion and audience surrender.
If you find yourself resistant to surrendering to a film, then Colin Hickey may very well not be the filmmake for you.
Hickey did this with his feature debut The Evening Redness in the South and he has done it once again, perhaps even moreso, with the dialogue-free work of wonder he calls Where the Merrows Roam. The film, which has already picked up a handful of awards in the category of experimental filmmaking, follows two separate stories across a series of distinct chapters. What follows is a nonlinear collage of reminiscences tracing what Hickey calls "the hazy glow of childhood memory through to the harsh light of adulthood."
Where the Merrows Roam benefits from full-on surrender right away. The more you give yourself to it, the more you're likely to appreciate Hickey's extraordinary vision that is both as simple as one might as imagine yet also as complex as life itself. We are told very early on that a Merrow is the name given to a mermaid or a merman from Irish mythology. If you spend the film's 60-minute running time trying to figure out all of its connection, you may very well miss what Where the Merrows Roam has for you.
Don't ask me to tell you.
This is a film that will be experienced differently by everyone. My takeaway will not be yours and vice versa.
This is how Hickey likes it, I believe. Hickey prefers the mystery of filmmaking. He prefers stories that don't dictate to us how we are to feel or think or experience. He prefers that we breathe in his imagery and allow it to work its magic within our own life's mysteries and stories and joys and sorrows.
Indeed, this is exactly what happened for me with Where the Merrows Roam.
As noted, Where the Merrows Roam is a dialogue-free film yet the imagery is simply extraordinary as delivered by the Cork County, Ireland filmmaker. If you've never wanted to visit Ireland, and it's on my own bucket list, Where the Merrows Roam may very well change your mind.
Where the Merrows Roam moves quickly yet is gently paced. I was honestly quite astounded once the closing credits began to roll and I realized my time with the silent but ever present Liam Cottey, Clara Rose Hickey, and others was about to end.
Truthfully, I was a little sad.
For those with an insatiable need to fill the silence, Where the Merrows Roam will be maddening. For others, myself included, Where the Merrows Roam will be a work of majestic wonder deserving of the biggest screen you can find and a wonderful sound system through which to appreciate Diego Felipe Gaitan Lozano's diverse tapestry of original music that practically serves as a leading character for the film.
If you get the chance, Where the Merrows Roam is a film to watch with the lights out, the sound up, and the heart and mind fully open.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic