MovieHype00667 - THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH
In 2002 I was writing an uber-column full of recommended movies for the Thanksgiving weekend. In the “family” category I proudly brought out THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH, having this to say:
Bar none, the best film you’ve never heard of, and almost certainly never seen. Best yet, I don’t care if your home is invaded by a bunch of Amish, this one will please everybody. Based on an Irish myth, the film takes place on an island off the coast of
For years I’ve tried to get anyone I could to see the film. ROAN INISH is the only film I will flat out recommend to anyone. In fact, I would say it’s virtually impossible to hate.
Anyway, most of you know about the Family Movie Project, where each of us gets to pick two movies a year (we divided the months up) that we all see, and then next Christmas we will at the very least have seen 12 films in common. (We’re also supposed to talk about them, but so far the family is hating when it comes to that.)
April was my first month, and I wanted to take ROAN INISH, but found it impossible to find up here in
I was talking to the librarian the other day, and mentioned how I wish I could get my family to see ROAN INISH, and she casually mentions she owns it! Several minutes of puppy dog eyes and whimpering later, and she agreed to let me borrow it.
I was a tad worried, as I’d seen the film a dozen years ago and wondered if I built it up too much in my mind. Have you ever done that with a film from youth, and then later you go back and wonder what drugs you were on? Nonetheless, I bravely made my family watch, and my mom liked it so much she made it her movie for May!
Like I wrote in 2002, the film is based on an Irish folk-tale. It’s somewhat similar in tone to WHALE RIDER, in the sense of being a family film about a relatively isolated group of people that attempts to take the folklore and weave it into a more modern tale.
THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH takes place just after the war. (Which war I just realized I’m not entirely sure of, but it matters not.) Little Fiona loses her mother in the opening scene, and soon we find out that she lost her baby brother in a tragic accident when her family was evacuated from Roan Inish, an island they had inhabited for generations.
If your heart hasn’t already gone out to the 8 year old, you’re an evil monster and you should be eaten by pit bulls.
Fiona’s father is desolated by the loss, and has taken to drink. (Insert your best “Irishman” joke here.) In a powerful scene we see Fiona walk into a pub to see her father. In Charlie-Brown manner we never see him, or any other adult more than an arm here, a leg here. Instead we stay at Fiona’s eye-level, taking it all in.
Soon Fiona is shipped off to her grandparents, who still live on the coast, in sight of the ancestral island they once called home. As the title implies, there’s a secret there, and more than that I won’t say.
I don’t know how else to tell you this people, other than to put my entire reputation as a judge of movies on the line and exhort you to watch the film. With your 80 year old grandmother or your 8 year old daughter; this is your winner.
The only caveat I can possibly think of is to recommend you watch the film with captions for the first 30 minutes, until you get the tone and timing of the Irish brogue.
That’s it. I expect to see Comment after Comment here thanking me for my recommendation, and remember: Paypal takes Visa AND MasterCard.