The Secret of Roan Inish

Movie Information

In Brief: An unusual film to come from indie filmmaker John Sayles, The Secret of Roan Inish is completely out of keeping with the generally cynical tone of his other work. Sayles is the last person on Earth you’d expect to be making a “family film,” but that might be part of the reason this 1995 film works as well as it does. Sayles was certainly no stranger to the fantastic. His directing credits include the very fantasticated Brother From Another Planet (1984), while his writing credits encompass such things as Piranha (1978) and The Howling (1981). The surprise lies in the whimsical nature of Roan Inish. What works is Sayles’ refusal to make the material “precious.” In other hands, the story of a little girl (Jeni Courtney) learning, exploring and reclaiming the family history — involving a race of mermaid-like were-seals called Selkies — could probably have been milked for maximum cuteness. Sayles approaches it all in a matter-of-fact manner that’s both refreshing and perfectly in keeping with the story’s coastal Ireland setting, a world in which such things are not thought of as impossible. It results in a fantasy that isn’t played as fantasy, and it works remarkably well.  
Genre: Fantasy
Director: John Sayles
Starring: Jeni Courtney, Mick Lally, John Lynch, Eileen Colgan
Rated: PG

The Hendersonville Film Society will show The Secret of Roan Inish Sunday, Feb. 21, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.