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the secret of roan inish (1994)

written and directed by john sayles

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A tale of Celtic magical realism set in the late 1940’s. After her mother’s death, 10-year-old Fiona is sent to live with her grandparents in a small fishing village on the western coast of Ireland. Years earlier, on the day her family prepared to leave their ancestral home on the nearby island of Roan Inish forever, her baby brother Jamie was swept out to sea in a cradle shaped like a boat. Hearing tales of recent sightings of a wild, naked boy accompanied by gulls and seals, Fiona sets her mind to find him. And then there’s the local legend of the Selkie– a seal who can turn into a woman– and said to be the provenance of the ‘dark ones’ in her own family. A chance sighting of her brother on the deserted island is disbelieved by all but her supposedly ‘touched’ uncle Tadgh, but Fiona enlists her adventurous cousin in an attempt to restore the abandoned family cottage and lure her brother back in form the sea. Sayles’s only “kids’ movie” to date has a depth and emotional pull that can be enjoyed by all generations.

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