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The Secret Scripture (2016)

PG-13 | | Drama, Romance | 13 October 2017 (USA)
2:17 | Trailer
A woman keeps a diary of her extended stay at a mental hospital.


Jim Sheridan


Sebastian Barry (based on the novel by), Jim Sheridan | 1 more credit »
2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Theo James ... Father Gaunt
Rooney Mara ... Rose
Jack Reynor ... Michael McNulty
Aidan Turner ... Jack Conroy
Eric Bana ... Dr. Grene
Vanessa Redgrave ... Lady Rose
Susan Lynch ... Nurse
Adrian Dunbar ... Dr. Hart
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor ... McCabe
Pauline McLynn ... Anne McCartney
Charlie Kelly ... Beau
Omar Sharif Jr. ... Daniel O'Brien
Laurence O'Fuarain ... Detective
Nika McGuigan ... Chrissie
John Connors ... Joe Brady


Roseanne McNulty 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, 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, 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, and that a local priest fell tragically in love with her. Written by AnonymousB

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Time doesn't forget. See more »


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic content, some sexuality and language | See all certifications »


Official Sites:

Official site [Japan]





Release Date:

13 October 2017 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tss See more »

Filming Locations:

County Wicklow, Ireland See more »


Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.40 : 1 Anamorphic
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Jonathan Rhys Meyers was originally cast as Father Gaunt but he dropped out after the project was delayed and Theo James replaced him. See more »


When Michael prepares to leave Rose and re-join the war, he dresses in his formal uniform and prepares to go. But he hasn't shaved, which is part of the look of the actor who plays him (Jack Reynor) and not "regulation" for the services during World War II. See more »


Lady Rose: Anything you see with love is the truth.
See more »


The Cry Inside
Written by Brian Byrne & Jim Sheridan
Performed by Kelly Clarkson, Brian Byrne & Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra-Sif 309 (as The Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra)
Published by Asamesa Publishing (ASCAP), Soleonthebone Publishing (IMRO) & Songs For My Shrink (ASCAP)
© 2016 Brian Byrne & Jim Sheridan
See more »

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User Reviews

a fractured melodrama about a woman wrongly held in a Catholic hospital for 40 years
14 December 2017 | by CineMuseFilmsSee all my reviews

It's easy to get absorbed in a story without recognising the bigger picture that frames the narrative. To describe The Secret Scripture (2017) as a woman's diary of life in a mental hospital masks the darker narrative of horror perpetrated by the Catholic Church. Based on a 2008 novel of the same name, the film is part of the recent wave of disclosures about appalling misdeeds committed in the name of holiness across various parts of the world.

Set in Ireland from the early 1930s, the story traces the life of Roseanne McNulty who was falsely incarcerated in an Irish mental hospital owned by the Catholic Church. After more than 40 years as a patient, Rose must be discharged or moved elsewhere when the hospital closes. New psychiatrist William Grene (Eric Bana) discovers that she is mentally sharp and has meticulously recorded her life story across the pages of an old bible. In a complex series of flashbacks the elderly Rose (Vanessa Redgrave) recounts how, as a feisty young woman (played by Rooney Mara), she had fallen in love with Michael McNulty (Jack Reynor) believed by locals to be a British sympathiser. The new Father Gaunt (Theo James) takes more than a pastoral interest in Rose and tries to stop the affair. When Rose becomes pregnant and Michael is embroiled in the Irish Troubles, she is hunted down by local vigilantes for harbouring the suspected sympathiser. Enraged by the affair, Father Gaunt certifies her to be suffering from nymphomania and she is subjected to electric shock treatment and other abuses over four decades.

Great filming locations and stellar acting performances by Redgrave and Mara do little to save this film from its complicated and fractured web of episodic flashbacks. The constant shifts of time, place, and people is at the cost of narrative coherence and the contrived finale defies beiief. The narrow expressive repertoire of Eric Bana casts a pall of indifference over Rose's existence as if she were a specimen in a hospital test tube. When it is revealed she is much more than that, Bana strains to emote with warmth or empathy and leaves you wondering why he was cast in that role. The transitions between the younger and older Rose are increasingly disjointed as the entire ensemble drifts towards its soap-operatic conclusion.

Uncertain direction and messy narrative means it is easy to lose sight of the larger story of injustice suffered by people like Rose at the hands of the Catholic Church. The moral perversion of Father Gaunt and the Church's obsession to punish victims is left unexamined. Despite excellent filming and a well-crafted atmosphere of claustrophobic confinement, this film struggles to rise above a mediocre melodrama.

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