Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Every Secret Thing - 2015 film review

Laura Lippman is a crime writer of the highest calibre, and so I watched the recent film version of Every Secret Thing, based on her book of the same name, with great interest. I expected a strong story, and I wasn't disappointed. There aren't many major characters, but a clever storyline springs a series of surprises that help to reveal crucial elements of the protagonists' personalities.

The present day story links in with a crime in the past - the abduction and killing of a baby by two young girls. Those girls, Ronnie and Alice, are convicted, and eventually released, and the focus is on how their past actions continue to affect their lives, and the lives of those around them. There's a similarity here with the concept of Alex Marwood's enjoyable novel Wicked Girls, but the two stories are very different, though equally compelling.

When a young girl goes missing in the neighbourhood where both Ronnie and Alice are based, the police are immediately suspicious. Elizabeth Banks is very good as the cop with a personal stake in the case, while Diane Lane gives a subtle performance as Alice's mother. At first we regard her as loving and kind, but the complexity of her attitudes towards the two girls become increasingly apparent.

As Ronnie and Alice, Dakota Fanning and (especially) Diane Macdonald are very well cast. Ronnie's background is apparently less privileged than Alice's, but in reality, both of them are damaged people. I've seen some fairly negative reviews of this film, but as the truth is gradually revealed, I found myself increasingly impressed. It is a relatively short film, and its psychological intensity makes it, in my opinion, both watchable and thought-provoking.

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