The Secret Of Roan Inish

To my ears at least, writer-director John Sayles does an impressive job of impersonating traditional Irish storytellers in this sweet-tempered if slightly dull piece of magical realism (1994, 103 min.), which he adapted from Rosalie K. Fry’s 1957 novella Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry and filmed on Ireland’s west coast. A little girl is sent to live with her grandparents; her grandfather tells her a story about the disappearance of her baby brother when a wave carried away his cradle, and after her 13-year-old cousin suggests that the boy is still sailing in it around the remote island Roan Inish, the girl gets an opportunity to explore the island, finding a few traces of human habitation. This is all rather low-key and uninsistent, but the settings are gorgeous, and Haskell Wexler’s cinematography makes the most of them. With Jeni Courtney, Mick Lally, Eileen Colgan, Richard Sheridan, and John Lynch. (JR)

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