The Secret Scripture

Critics Consensus

The Secret Scripture has acclaimed source material and a well-chosen cast in its corner, but despite its stars' valiant efforts, this adaptation was better left on the page.



Total Count: 39


Audience Score

User Ratings: 281
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Movie Info

A psychiatrist (Eric Bana) examines Roseanne McNulty (Vanessa Redgrave), an elderly Irishwoman living in a mental institution, and learns more about her past in the process. Rooney Mara plays McNulty as a young woman, in flashbacks that detail her love triangle with a fighter pilot (Jack Reynor) and a priest (Theo James). Directed by Jim Sheridan, The Secret Scripture is based on the novel of the same name by Sebastian Barry.


Jack Reynor
as Michael
Eric Bana
as Dr. William Grene
Theo James
as Father Gaunt
Aidan Turner
as Jack Conroy

News & Interviews for The Secret Scripture

Critic Reviews for The Secret Scripture

All Critics (39) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (14) | Rotten (25)

  • The Secret Scripture is a highly streamlined adaptation of Sebastian Barry's 2008 Man Booker finalist.

    Dec 7, 2017 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Its lack of nuance and persistent plotting issues frequently undermine much of the potential emotional heft.

    May 19, 2017 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • Sebastian Barry's Costa prizewinning novel is gutted and reconstituted to the point of absurdity in this cockeyed adaptation.

    May 18, 2017 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

    Kevin Maher

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Goes from a fairly forgettable romantic drama into a full-tilt fiasco.

    May 15, 2017 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…
  • Disjointed and disinterested in entertaining any and all prospective viewers, the overlong slab of melodrama is one of the most vanilla experiences at the movies in quite some time.

    Sep 13, 2016 | Full Review…

    Sam Fragoso

    Top Critic
  • It doesn't take too long for Jim Sheridan's period romance "The Secret Scripture" to contort itself into a befuddlingly bungled mess. But at the outset, it seems to have everything going for it.

    Sep 11, 2016 | Full Review…

    Andrew Barker

    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Secret Scripture

  • Apr 12, 2017
    A depiction of the cruelty dealt to a young woman by the religious hierarchy in 20th century Ireland, this screenplay contained too much romanticism to be a thorough indictment of such practices, but the mighty performance of Vanessa Redgrave pushes the excuses to the sidelines. The message is sympathy for the woman Rose, though the film wanted to reconcile the two. Redgrave is fearless, every moment is considered, overflowing with significance. She challenges the reality - including the film's generosity to the church. Only an actor of Redgrave's power could do it. The film is a lesson in the differences between the acting of Redgrave, and the requirements of modern stardom, where the lead actor may often have to be less the true focus than a neutral point around whom the production revolves. This is a deeply touching story, but not as savagely true as say The Magdalen Sisters. Some in the audience may have to keep deciding whose side they are on: it is a power struggle between Redgrave's lead and the production, which she wins - just. An opportunity to watch Redgrave at her brave and fiery best, driving home against the odds the point that what happened to Rose was not, and never would be, all right.
    . . Super Reviewer

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