Laura Lippman‘s best-selling novel Every Secret Thing has been brought to life by Academy Award(r) Nominated Filmmaker Amy Berg. Two 11 year old girls are convicted of kidnapping and killing a biracial infant. Released after seven years in a jeuvenile detention center, Ronnie and Alice are back in their hometown attempting to adjust to normal life as newly minted adults. Two weeks after their release, another young biracial girl goes missing from a local furniture store. Can the lead detective from the first case survive this new one? Who can you trust? Every Secret Thing puts your suspicions to the test at every turn.
Utilizing flashbacks and he said/she said interrogation tactics, Berg skillfully crafts a film filled with mystery. Having not read the book, I was pleasantly surprised that the film clearly stands on it’s own. Never once did I feel cheated or left in the dark for the wrong reasons. In fact I was scratching my head, trying to figure it out right along with the detectives. I was fully engrossed with the story and structure. Bravo, I say.
Dakota Fanning plays Ronnie with a beautiful mixture of shyness and a hardened edge. Ronnie is from “The wrong side of the tracks”. Quiet and smart, her heavily rimmed eyes speak volumes as a severely damaged young woman. Danielle Macdonald gives one hell of a performance as Alice. Her eerie lack of emotional growth is startling. She walks a fine line between naivete and incredulity. Someone go cast her in something else, please?
Diane Lane plays Alice’s mother, Helen. This is a woman with issues in broad daylight. Her relationship with Ronnie and Alice is beyond peculiar and most definitely off putting. Alcoholic and self loathing, she has been silently molding the girls whether she realizes it or not. This performance should garner her attention for the sheer sliminess and moral justification that comes off the screen. Elizabeth Banks play Detective Nancy Porter. Haunted by the death of the first child 7 years earlier, she is determined to figure out the truth this time around. Banks is vulnerable but tough in all the right areas.
It was so refreshing to see a cast that was female dominated and extraordinarily talented. This film blows the Bechdel test out of the water. Applause to Berg, screenwriter Nicole Holofcener, and executive producer Frances McDormand for bringing Every Secret Thing to the big screen. I will say, even after seeing the film twice, (once at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival and again this week) I am still intrigued to go out and grab Lippman’s novel. At the heart of it all, this is a story about emotional abuse and it’s long term consequences. Every Little Secret will keep you guessing until the very last frame.
Synopsis: From a producer of FOXCATCHER and based on the novel by New York Times best-selling author Laura Lippman, EVERY SECRET THING is a gripping psychological thriller about the chilling consequences of the secrets we keep.
Detective Nancy Porter (Elizabeth Banks) is still haunted by her failure to save the life of a missing child from the hands of two young girls. Eight years later, another child goes missing in the same town just days after Ronnie and Alice (Dakota Fanning and newcomer Danielle Macdonald), the two girls convicted of the former crime, were released from juvenile detention. Porter and her partner (Nate Parker) must race against the clock to prevent history from repeating itself. But as they begin to investigate the girls and their families, especially Alice’s protective mother (Diane Lane), they unearth a web of secrets and deceptions that calls everything into question.
Directed by Academy Award(r) Nominated Filmmaker Amy Berg and Executive Produced by Frances McDormand.
RT: 93 Minutes