The Secret of Roan Inish (1994)

Imdb Ranking 7.3

Fiona's mother has died and her father spends most of his time in the pub, so he sends her to live with grandparents. Her grandparents live near the sea, near the island they used to live on, Roan Inish (Gaelic for Island of the Seals). When Fiona was younger her brother Jaime had floated out to sea in his cradle. There is a rumor that he is still floating around out there.
One day while exploring Roan Inish, now deserted, Fiona sees a little boy's footprint. Later she sees Jaime himself. But Jaime flees back to his crib and out to see he goes with his seals.
Fiona's grandparents tell her about her father, Jimmy, and her mother, Brigid, when they were younger. Jimmy was crushed when Brigid died. When Fiona tells her grandmother that she hopes Jaime comes in before the storm, her grandmother questions her. Fiona tells her grandmother that she has seen Jaime and the seals have been taking care of him. To everyone surprise Grandma says she knew it all along, she could feel it.
When they head out to Roan Inish there is already a fire going in the house. Then Jaime comes in from the sea, but runs when he sees them, But the seals push him back on to shore, then push the crib out to sea. The seals are brining Jaime back to the humans. Jaime runs in to his grandmother's arms and the seals take off. The family is together again on Roan Inish.
John Sayles, who seems to be trying his hand at as many genres as he can (Western, sports, history), explores the legend in his gentle, slow-paced way. Very well done.