Monday, 20 November 2017

WITH such groundbreaking and original dramatic work to his name, Jim Sheridan is setting the bar awfully high for his latest work, The Secret Scripture.

Based on Sebastian Barry’s 2008 novel of the same name, it tells the story of a woman keeping a diary of her stay at a mental hospital and the events leading to her hospitalisation.

The book won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, one of the most prestigious English literature prizes, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, so a solid basis for interpretation.

Rewind the years, though, and at the beginning of his career in film Sheridan was a force to be reckoned with. His first three turns in the director’s chair in the late Eighties and early Nineties resulted in a trio of highly acclaimed dramas that are still praised to this day.

The second film was the lesser-known The Field starring Richard Harris, John Hurt and Sean Bean, but sandwiched either side were arguably two of the greatest dramas ever made.

Sheridan’s debut, 1989’s My Left Foot, tells the story of Christy Brown, played by Daniel Day-Lewis, an Irishman born with cerebral palsy who could control only his left foot.

Four years later, Sheridan reunited with the sublime Day-Lewis for In the Name of the Father, based on the true life story of the Guildford Four — four people falsely convicted of the 1974 Guildford pub bombings.

Sadly his star man doesn’t return for this latest effort but, never one to shy away from powerful and hard-hitting themes, Sheridan will no doubt tackle the subject of mental illness head on. Whether he is able replicate the success of Barry’s novel on the big screen, however, remains to be seen.

Sheridan does have a solid cast to help him bring the story to life and returns to the Irish homeland that provided the settings for his greatest achievements.

Vanessa Redgrave takes the lead as the older Roseanne McNulty, who is telling her story, with an outstanding turn by Rooney Mara as her younger self.

The pair are supported by Eric Bana, Theo James and Aidan Turner.

The Secret Scripture is now showing at Henley’s Regal Picturehouse cinema.

David White

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