This year, I’d fully intended to do something similar. But then I stumbled across a film I’ve been waiting to recommend for (literally) years, so you’re going to have to excuse me and my giddy excitement long enough to learn that The Secret of Roan Inish is finally streaming somewhere. On NETFLIX INSTANT, to be precise.
And it’s pretty magical.
Fiona is a young Irish girl with an unusual family history, including a long-missing baby brother. When she goes to live with her grandparents on the west coast of Ireland, Fiona hears stories about her ancestors, tales that involve mythical creatures called selkies who can shift from seal to human form. After Fiona ends up on the small island of Roan Inish, her family’s ancestral home, she believes she may have found her little brother living by the sea.
Of particular note, some wonderful cinematography from the legendary Haskell Wexler. Also, a pitch-perfect (heh!) score from Mason Daring. But the thing that really makes this film stand out isn’t an actor (though they’re solid) or a behind-the scenes guy (though John Sayles’ efforts as both the writer and director are exemplary). No, the thing that makes this film special is its mood.From Roger Ebert:
One can easily guess how this legend could have been simplified and jollied up in other hands – how it could have been about cute little Selkies. But legends are, after all, told by adults, not children, and usually they record something essential to the culture that produces them. What this legend says, I think, is that the people who tell it live on the land but live from the sea, so that their loyalties are forever divided.
Great stuff, really. Plus, it’ll hold you over until my other favorite selkie movie is made available on some of the more mainstream subscription platforms. (I’m talking about Song of the Sea, of course. Or, you could just RENT IT for a few bucks. It’s an absolute bargain at that/almost any price.)