Bringing three films to TIFF this year, alongside Una and Lion, Rooney Mara also premiered The Secret Scripture. Directed by Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father), the story follows Vanessa Redgrave as an older version of Mara’s character, reflecting on her traumatic life in Ireland through writing a diary. Although U.S. distribution hasn’t been picked up yet, the first trailer has now arrived for the film also starring Jack Reynor, Theo James, Aidan Turner, and Eric Bana.

We said in our review, “The result falls flat and all too conventional for the talent involved. The problem lies more in Sheridan’s direction than in Mara’s acting, which is to say that she does deliver another good performance here, but everything else does her talent a major disservice. Redgrave is also a stand-out, but the film feels like an Irish soap opera filled with moments that forcefully demand the audience to cry, get mad, and get riled up, and as a result, it perpetrates one of the biggest sins you can make when creating a feature film: a lack of subtlety. The end result is an experience that feels all too tidy and gift-wrapped.”

Check out the trailer below.

TIFF Synopsis:

Based on Sebastian Barry’s acclaimed 2008 novel, the latest film from Academy Award–nominated director Jim Sheridan draws us into a woman’s mysterious story, long hidden by time and trauma. Starring Rooney Mara (also at this year’s Festival in Lion and Una), Oscar winner Vanessa Redgrave, Jack Reynor, and Eric Bana, The Secret Scripture is a powerful story of love, loss, and belated redemption.

Roseanne McNulty (Redgrave) 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 (Bana), 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 (Mara), 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 (Reynor, also at the Festival in Free Fire), and that a local priest (Theo James) fell tragically in love with her.

The interplay between Redgrave and Mara’s performances of the same character decades apart makes for fascinating viewing: Redgrave’s Roseanne is a woman nearly broken by injustice and bereavement, while Mara’s is young and passionate, unaware of any misfortune to come.

Shifting elegantly between past and present, The Secret Scripture chronicles Roseanne’s distressing life while immersing us in the history of Ireland’s political tensions and the struggles women have confronted there.

The Secret Scripture is seeking U.S. distribution.

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