Jim Sheridan

Vanessa Redgrave, Rooney Mara, Eric Bana, Susan Lynch, Theo James, Jack Reynor and Aidan Turner

Based on the 2008 Booker Prize-winning novel of the same name by Sebastian Barry, THE SECRET SCRIPTURE stars Vanessa Redgrave as Lady Rose, a patient at a hospital for the mentally ill who has lived there for over forty years. When it is announced that the hospital is being demolished, Lady Rose is prepared for transfer by her nurse (Susan Lynch) and a psychiatrist, Dr William Grene (Eric Bana). As Dr Grene assesses Lady Rose, he questions the cause for her admittance to the facility all of those years ago as well as the reason for her lengthy stay. Told via flashbacks throughout the film, Lady Rose recounts her life throughout the 1930’s (now played by Rooney Mara) and the devastating, life-changing events that led to her medical confinement.

For the benefit of its viewers, I am going to reveal one of the secrets (not spoilers!) of THE SECRET SCRIPTURE. It is not until the second half of the film that the script begins to reveal its most important and dramatic detail mentioned in the synopsis. Until the development of such proceedings, please prepare yourselves for some serious drama that’s near-impossible to take seriously. The opening half of those flashback sequences is dominated by a strange love triangle (of sorts) that involves Rose, a war pilot named Michael (Jack Reynor) and….. are you ready for this? A Priest played by THE DIVERGENT SERIES pin up star, Theo James! Regardless, each of these men play a crucial part as to how Rose’s future will eventuate. A couple of other factors that also do not help THE SECRET SCRIPTURE to earn the involvement it is after include Eric Bana’s wonky accent that travels all across the globe and flat storytelling, which has a tendency to bore. Despite all of this, it may come as a surprise to learn that THE SECRET SCRIPTURE isn’t at all a challenge to sit through. The extremely picturesque photography, a beautifully composed score and Rooney Mara’s committed performance are all of a strong presence throughout this handsome production.

It is very likely that you will find THE SECRET SCRIPTURE’s contrived conclusion quite foreseeable. While its shortcomings do leave this film exposed to justifiable criticism and doubt, there is little doubt in its ability to still involve the large majority of more forgiving audiences who see this.

3 stars

Viewer Discretion
 (Mature themes, sex scene and coarse language)


Moviedoc thanks Transmission Films for the private screener link to watch and review this film.

Review by Moviedoc
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  1. This is about the best that anyone can say about this film: “there is little doubt in its ability to still involve the large majority of more forgiving audiences who see this”. Fans of Redgrave and Mara are likely to enjoy it, but the wooden Bana is unfortunate casting.

    Liked by 1 person

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