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The Secret Scripture - TIFF 2016

The Secret Scripture was one of TIFFs Gala* Presentations. Again, no trailer (what the hell with the lack of trailers this year - don’t they know I’m lazy and trailers make my posting easier) so instead you get this.

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 movie’s received fairly negative reviews (which I looked up after the film based on a comment the director made during the Q&A) but I think they were a bit harsh. They make comments about the disjointed story which to me was clearly the director’s intention. It’s the story of the memories and scribbles of an old woman whose spent the past fifty years in a mental institution. Her memories are fuzzy and we aren’t supposed to know if what she’s telling us is real or imagined. Because she may not know what’s real.

Which is not to say I loved the film. Rooney Mara’s performance was solid as was Vanessa Redgrave. The acting by the rest of the cast was generally competent with Divergent’s Theo James getting a special nod from me for being so very, very punchable (that should be a new award category). But there were some parts that dragged a bit while others felt as if they received too little attention. And the ending was a bit too neat and wrapped up for my liking.

Overall it wasn’t as good as many of Sheridan’s other films. And there are several better movies about abuses by the Catholic Church in Ireland. Both The Magdalene Sisters (2003) and Philomena (2013) come to mind. But it’s worth a look once it hits streaming.

*I did not see it at the Gala Premiere as those cost more than twice as much as a standard festival movie and generally involves terrible seats because the good seats to to industry people. But I used to go to Galas when I first started going to TIFF and it’s worth doing once or twice.

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