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Secret Scripture, The


Stars: Rooney Mara, Eric Bana, Vanessa Redgrave, Jack Reynor, Theo James, Aidan Turner, Susan Lynch, Adrian Dunbar, Omar Sharif Jr

Director: Jim Sheridan

The long arm of coincidence doth indeed reach far to provide the twist to this 'likely story' about a young woman (Mara, later Redgrave) unjustly confined to a forbidding mental hospital for 40 years, sent there by a vengeful cleric (James), whose advances she had rejected, after being evacuated from her native Belfast to rural Ireland at the onset of World War Two.

The love of she Rose's life there proves to be shopkeeper's son Michael McNulty (Reynor), who travels north to cross the border and join the RAF. When he's shot down near the cottage to which Rose has been exiled by her aunt (Pauline McLynn), who disapproves of men fighting over her, Rose rescues and cares for him. But local Nazi sympathisers, not to mention the cleric, cast menacing shadows over their happiness...

Meanwhile, the elderly Rose is about to be transferred to another hospital, but is befriended by a nurse (the ever-striking Lynch) and a doctor (Bana), who has been called in to investigate her case. They follow Rose's story as it is written in the margins of her Bible.

Half social document and half rampant melodrama, the film never quite gets under Rose's skin to see what makes the girl tick. And the ending is really a bit too rose-coloured to jerk more than the occasional tear.

David Quinlan

Ireland/UK 2016. UK Distributor: Vertigo. Colour (unspecified).
108 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 15 May 2017