Tag Archives: Eric Bana

THE SECRET SCRIPTURE

“Rooney Mara… effortlessly seducing each and every man that crosses her path, much to her ultimate detriment.”
Wayward Wolf.
The Secret Scripture is Jim Sheridan’s realisation of the Sebastian Barry novel of the same name.
It tells the story of Rose McNulty, an elderly lady incarcerated for most of her life in a mental asylum. With the asylum due to be demolished, Rose must leave the place that has been her home for over forty years. Either she will be transferred to another unit, or released into the community. This is still to be determined, and it represents something of a quandary for the asylum’s owner whose attempts to ascertain Rose’s current state of mental health have been blunt and tactless, and predictably therefore, fruitless.
Rose insists that she will only ever leave when her long lost son returns in person to take her away from the place.
This is the same son that she killed when he was just an infant – or so the story goes.
Be it amicably or through sedation, Rose has no choice but to leave, and it’s only when psychiatrist, Dr. William Grene (Eric Bana) agrees to re-assess her himself, that she is granted a brief stay of execution at the facility.
She proceeds then to open up and reveal the contents of her hidden, make-shift diary which has been scrawled upon the pages of an old bible. It is a diary whose content spans much of her considerable life.
With a memory ravaged by time – not to mention multiple electroconvulsive therapies – Rose still manages to recall a fascinating life in which the jealousy, prejudices and vehement political leanings of others have all led to her being locked away from society so unjustly, and for so many years.
It soon becomes clear that the official version of events that led to such a life of hardship for Mrs McNulty, is anything but the real truth.
A narrative that oozes forbidden love, a large dose of injustice and the perils of poisoned political influence, should realistically set The Secret Scripture up to be something of a grand, unforgettable, sweeping, romantic epic, and in some ways it is.
But for a film with such lofty ambitions, it also fails to deliver as it could and probably should.
There’s a general clunkiness about The Secret Scripture, and it’s not for want of decent performances. Rooney Mara in particular convinces as the young Rose, a girl who seems somehow to be not in control of her own sexuality; effortlessly seducing each and every man that crosses her path, much to her ultimate detriment.
No, the clunkiness seems to stem rather from a failure to fully examine and emotionally connect with any sense of depth, the more weighty components of the tale, namely:
A young, tormented Catholic Priest whose jealous infatuation with young Rose can never be anything more than that.
A forbidden relationship between a Catholic girl from County Sligo and a young lad who chooses to ‘betray’ his Irish roots and join the RAF to help with the war effort.
The ‘imprisonment’ – for that is effectively what it was – of a pregnant Rose, in a mental asylum, and the significant ill treatment that she would receive there.
And perhaps more than anything, the realisation that she would never be allowed to keep her child, who, when the time came, would be taken from her, destined to join some invisible wealthy family on the other side of the Atlantic, in the United States of America.
All of these story lines and more, instead, pass us by without us ever truly appreciating what the enormity of their impact would have been. And that’s disappointing considering other films have focused upon similar themes, and done so with far greater impact. The 2013 drama, Philomena, immediately springs to mind.
There’s been a rather negative press surrounding this Jim Sheridan piece and I think on balance that that’s perhaps a little unfair, although conversely, also understandable to some degree. It’s all just a little too neat and tidy and a tad ‘convenient’ and predictable in places.
But that said, this is a film which proves that by employing a directorial approach that is above all honest, whilst exhibiting both a little goodwill and a certain warmth of spirit, you can sometimes cover a multitude of sins.
In spite of its faults and inadequacies – and there are many – The Secret Scripture still manages to tick enough boxes to entertain, delivering a certain level of poignancy and glossy sentiment as it does so, which just about carries it through.

FILM REVIEW: The Finest Hours

There’s nothing like a great, epic sea-faring yarn. And, that’s right, this is nothing like a great, epic sea-faring yarn.

Based upon a true story; one that is still heralded to this day as the greatest sea-faring rescue mission by the U.S coastal guard to ever have happened, The Finest Hours chronicles the daring exploits of ‘unlikely’ hero, Bernie Webber (Chris Pine), and his rag-tag assortment of inexperienced seamen on their mission to save a number of stricken crew members aboard half of an oil tanker – that’s right, half of an oil tanker – the other half having been shorn away by 70 foot waves in uncommonly rough seas during one of the worst storms ever to have hit the U.S east coast.

You certainly can’t argue that The Finest Hours has all of the ingredients to make an engaging, albeit straight forward piece of cinema, so quite how director Craig Gillespie and Disney have come up which such a damp squib of a film, is a bit of a head scratcher.

Right from the off, a limp set of sequences introduces us to a set of characters so beige, poorly drawn and uninspired, that you’d swear you were watching a made-for-TV matiné movie on the Hallmark channel. Add to this a ‘by-the-numbers’ script of massively contrived dialogue and a lead character, Bernie, whose soft voice, bowed head and bashful mannerisms, make him perhaps the least convincing ‘heroic’ boat captain since Laurel and Hardy stepped aboard in Saps at Sea.

Unlike the impressive, rolling waves of this 1952 storm, The Finest Hours, with maybe a handful of notable CGi-infused exceptions, is, in stark contrast, largely flat and lifeless, failing to hit the mark spectacularly on occasions. Indeed, even the effects are at times suspect. Not quite, ‘the studio’s summer temp, on set, flinging buckets of water at the boat’s crew from stage left’ suspect, but suspect none the less.

Rarely has such a relatively stella cast, (including the likes of Casey Affleck, John Ortiz and Eric Bana), ever been rendered quite so uninspiring  and disengaging, barely lifting this drab, salty saga into the realms of even the mundane.

I’d imagine I’m not the target audience for this two hours of sanitised marine driftwood, and it’s only fair to admit that it’s not bad in that Roland Emmerich, 2012 – angry at the mere thought of it – sense of the word, but let’s just say this; in marine terms, The Finest Hours is a piece of seaweed, bobbing limply on a still ocean; and not even one of those vaguely interesting pieces with the poppable air pockets in it.