"Mermaid" is a made-for-television picture that is populated by some fine actors who are able to keep the picture from moving too far into melodrama territory. Samantha Mathis stars as Rhonda, a young woman whose husband has recently passed away. Her young daughter, Desi, has not come to terms with the fact that her father will no longer be around - she keeps refering to herself in the third person (one of the few elements of the film that started to get tedious) and consistently asks to see her father.
To get over things, Rhonda packs up herself and her daughter and heads off to live with her mother (Ellen Burstyn). The three have a hard time adjusting to their new living arrangement and the loss of Desi's father. There's a particularly moving scene when Desi screams for her mother when they part ways during the first day of school, where the hurt across Mathis' face is very touching.
The three lead actresses provide exceptional work and keep the film grounded. Jodelle Ferland as Desi is particularly good - her tantrums in the early scenes could have been overdone, but her performance keeps from being over-the-top. Mathis and Burstyn also offer emotional, sympathetic performances. Although she hasn't been seen for a while, Mathis's quiet, strong performance is a reminder of what a talented and overlooked actress she is.
Desi eventually learns to grieve by sending a balloon up to heaven with a card attached for her father. A man in the town of Mermaid catches the card and decides to send it back. Overall, the film is a bit of a weeper, but the performances are sincere and moving.
VIDEO: "Mermaid" is presented in a very nice 1.33:1 full_frame edition. The picture was originally shown on Showtime, so full_frame is the original aspect ratio. Although sharpness and detail are not remarkable, they are better than I'd expected. The picture consistently looked well-defined and crisp, especially in some of the goregeous outdoor sequences. A couple of instances of minor pixelation and shimmer appear, but certainly don't distract. Colors were very nicely rendered throughout the film, as well, looking warm and well-saturated with no signs of smearing or other problems. A nice looking effort for a low-budget cable movie.
SOUND: Audio is only provided in Dolby 2.0, as it was when first broadcast. The film is 99.9% dialogue-driven, with only a few minor touches of ambient sound. Audio quality seemed fine, as music and dialogue came through clearly and crisply.
MENUS:: The main menu is made up of a clip from the movie. Sub-menus are made up of film-themed images.
EXTRAS:: Previews for "Summer's End", "Ratz", "Run The Wild Fields", "The Sweetest Guy", "Finding Buck McHenry" and "Big and Hairy".
Final Thoughts: A sad and touching film about loss, "Mermaid" features fine performances and thankfully keeps from being too melodramatic. The DVD doesn't really offer anything in the way of extras, but has fine audio/video quality.