A maudlin adaptation hampered by low energy and lapses of logic, The Secret Scripture does a disservice to the book it is based on, and the Irish history it plunders.
Stream The Secret Scripture
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
It is an elegantly crafted, expertly acted old-fashioned weepie that manages to sell a whopper of a plot that would bring a blush to the cheeks of Nicholas Sparks.
A classic case of a literary adaptation capturing the high-gloss trappings of its source without getting a handle on its story or themes, The Secret Scripture is like a nicely decorated Craftsman home built on a foundation of Jell-O, with a toilet where the kitchen sink should be. It looks nice on first glance, but spend any time there, and things start to get messy.
Sheridan’s take on the material is solidly made but sorely lacking in subtlety.
The plot structure is convoluted and all-too familiar, leaving almost no trace of originality or curiosity at the table.
The Secret Scripture is a film with a lot to say, which struggles with the best way to say it.
A variously lukewarm and lugubrious melodrama adapted from a 2008 novel by Sebastian Barry.
The ending of this movie is monumentally, historically, even catastophically bad. Its big reveal is so mind-numbingly asinine that it nearly retroactively erases any intelligence you may have had before watching this movie. Yes, it’s that agonizing.
Rooney Mara and Theo James deliver their most richly nuanced screen work to date in the drama, a memory piece whose true subject is Ireland’s tangled, bloody history and the Church’s toxic paternalism toward women.
So the cast is talented, the director has a decent track record and of course ‘The Secret Scripture’ looks pretty, in a picture-postcard sort of way. But the script is painful, not just horribly clichéd but trite, directionless and unaccountably pleased with itself.