The Secret Scripture


(spoiler free)

‘The Secret Scripture’ is the film adaptation of the 2008 novel of the same name written by Sebastian Barry. The story follows the character of Roseanne McNulty. She recalls her life whilst undergoing examination from a doctor in the mental facility which she now resides in. The film takes on the two different periods of the story with two lead performances, Vanessa Redgrave and Rooney Mara both star as the main character.

Rose’s story is quite an interesting, and certainly an eventful one. The early stages of the film show her moving from Belfast down to the Republic of Ireland. She takes up residence in a small Irish village and this is where the majority of her story takes place. This was an enjoyable setting with the various village folk offering an entertaining range of personalities. The pace of the film does slow slightly when the romantic element becomes the main focus though. However, due to the fact that the central relationship is endearing you shouldn’t find this too much of a problem. It’s the finale of the film that might put some people off. It’s narrative becomes quite predictable and is maybe a little to coincidental. This didn’t bother me too much due to the quaint nature of the film but I could see others having issue with it. 

I’ve already mentioned the various different characters that are present here and aside from the main performances there are plenty of well known faces making up the supporting cast. Jack Reynor, Aidan Turner and Theo James all portray different men in the village. Reynor plays the love interest. He doesn’t have masses of screen time but he uses what he does have well and comes across as charming and convincing. Turner plays an even smaller role as part of the local gang. It was good to see a well known actor in this type of role though, something that could have easily been given to a lesser actor. Turner certainly adds quality to the picture, and his presence is appreciated. James might be one of the most unlikely actors to be cast as an Irish priest, but here we are. This unlikely casting actually makes sense when you learn more of the character and James puts in a good performance. Eric Bana & Susan Lynch share most of the acting responsibility in the present day story, Redgrave aside. They both perform adequately however some of their shared scenes are a little awkward. However, I blame the at times jarring writing of these moments rather than the performances. None of these supporting roles matter too much though as Mara & Redgrave carry most of the weight of the film on their shoulders. Both perform excellently and help audiences to understand and care for the main character.

‘The Secret Scripture’ is a small scaled character drama that delivers exactly what you’d expect. There is a charming romance, an amusing array of characters and a crowd pleasing narrative. It’s nothing spectacular but it’s effortlessly enjoyable and the powerful lead performances make it even better. With more well known faces amongst the supporting cast it’s definitely well put together and sure to have a good run at the cinema, just in time for Mother’s Day. 

Rating – 7.5/10

Question: What is your favourite film set in Ireland?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)

Thanks for reading this review and please let me know what you thought about the movie! Leave a comment below or drop me a tweet over at @HCMovieReviews.


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