London Film Festival: The Secret Scripture Review
Thursday 13th October 2016 | Francesco
Sebastian Barry's novel paved the way to this new Jim Sheridan feature film. Hollywood loves adapting famous bestsellers about tragic love stories. There are so many adaptations onscreen of Sparks' novels like The Notebook and Dear John. The Secret Scripture is trying to attract the same amount of attention.
Jim Sheridan directs this story that is set in two different periods of the protagonist's life. Rose is a solitary woman who lives with her sister in Belfast. When she is approached by a troublesome priest who is obsessed with her, her life will take a terrible turn. As a consequence of her own baby's murder accusation, she will end up in a asylum. Did she kill him? What is her real story?
The Irish director creates an interesting portrait of the Irish situation in correlation with relevant themes like Catholic church bigotry and female emancipation. Like in Frears' Philomena, the protagonist is oppressed by this bleak institution. Apart from these engaging themes, the movie is fairly entertaining and really well acted and executed.
However, it's not enough. Even if Vanessa Redgrave and Rooney Mara stun as Rose, the plot, especially in the second part is so predictable, overused and cheesy, I wasn't surprised at all by the final revelation and the ending felt contrived and unrealistic. How can I buy so many coincidences?
Moreover the movie tone shifts from a sober, dark, sad atmosphere to a forced, positive scenario. Barry's novels always tell gripping stories that are almost implausible. The source material didn't help a potentially interesting film, as it lacks courage and boldness. I am not telling you not to watch it, because thanks to its stars The Secret Scripture is entertaining. My advice is to let your brain relax and enjoy the movie without overthinking it.