The Secret Scripture

By Jackie Raphael

4 stars 

A film about love, lust and loss, The Secret Scripture is based on the heartbreaking novel by Sebastian Barry. Elderly woman Rose McNulty (Vanessa Redgrave) is living in an Irish asylum when she starts to tell the tragic story of her life to psychiatrist Stephen Grene (Eric Bana) and a nurse (Susan Lynch). The non-linear tale continues to bounce back and forth between the present day and the 1940s. It works well in creating intrigue and building intensity throughout the film. 

The cast is wonderful. Theo James added depth to his character as a priest obsessed with Rose, while Jack Reynor was also strong as a charming fighter pilot. Bana gave a more subdued performance and did a great job with the Irish accent, while Redgrave expressed so much emotion with her eyes. However, the most outstanding performance was Rooney Mara, who played the young Rose. Her portrayal of such a brave and strong-willed woman was brilliant as she transitioned between conveying power, passion and pain so seamlessly.

While one of the main twists was somewhat predictable, other aspects will have you on the edge of your seat waiting for the full story to unravel. Director Jim Sheridan could have edited down some scenes and there were also a few plot holes in the resolution, but overall this is a brilliant film.