I've Heard the Mermaids Singing (1987)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Gay & Lesbian Films, Workplace Comedy  |   Release Date - Sep 11, 1987 (USA)  |   Run Time - 81 min.  |   Countries - Canada  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Robert Firsching

The title of this thoughtful character piece refers to a line in T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" which ends "I do not think they will sing to me." It's a clever bit of deception, for the viewer is first led to believe that the title refers to Polly (Sheila McCarthy), a thirtyish photographer who is both lonely and unfulfilled. Her career takes off when she is hired by Gabrielle (Paule Baillargeon), the chic curator of a Toronto art gallery. Polly is very grateful for Gabrielle's faith in her, and she begins to idolize the seemingly perfect curator. Slowly, however, the real and sad Gabrielle emerges, and she is a woman whom the mermaids not only don't sing to, but who probably couldn't hear them if they did. The film is a bit awkward at times, but it seems to be saying that true character and talent will win out in the end. Polly's journey is a rocky one, but she finally hears the song. A worthwhile debut from director Patricia Rozema, this is a small film with some very special moments.