The hidden memoir of an elderly woman confined to a mental hospital reveals the history of her passionate yet tortured life, and of the religious and political upheavals in Ireland during the 1920s and ’30s. Rooney Mara, Jack Reynor, Eric Bana and Vanessa Redgrave star in this adaptation of Sebastian Barry’s award-winning 2008 novel from Oscar-nominated director Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father).
The Secret Scripture
Based on Sebastian Barry's acclaimed 2008 novel, the latest film from Academy Award–nominated director Jim Sheridan draws us into a woman's mysterious story, long hidden by time and trauma. Starring Rooney Mara (also at this year's Festival in Lion and Una), Oscar winner Vanessa Redgrave, Jack Reynor, and Eric Bana, The Secret Scripture is a powerful story of love, loss, and belated redemption.
Roseanne McNulty (Redgrave) must vacate the soon-to-be demolished mental institution in Roscommon, Ireland that she's called home for over 50 years. The hospital's psychiatrist, Dr. William Grene (Bana), is called in to assess her condition. He finds himself intrigued by Roseanne's seemingly inscrutable rituals and tics, and her fierce attachment to her Bible, which she has over the decades transformed into a palimpsest of scripture, drawings, and cryptic diary entries. As Grene delves deeper into Roseanne's past, we see her as a young woman (Mara), whose charisma proves seductive. We learn that she moved to Sligo to work in her aunt's café, fell in love with a dashing fighter pilot (Reynor, also at the Festival in Free Fire), and that a local priest (Theo James) fell tragically in love with her.
The interplay between Redgrave and Mara's performances of the same character decades apart makes for fascinating viewing: Redgrave's Roseanne is a woman nearly broken by injustice and bereavement, while Mara's is young and passionate, unaware of any misfortune to come.
Shifting elegantly between past and present, The Secret Scripture chronicles Roseanne's distressing life while immersing us in the history of Ireland's political tensions and the struggles women have confronted there.
Roy Thomson Hall
Isabel Bader Theatre