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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Friday, February 12, 2016

Movie Review - Every Secret Thing

Every Secret Thing (2015)
Starring Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks, Dakota Fanning, Danielle Macdonald, Nate Parker, and Common
Directed by Amy Berg

As soon as the opening credits began to roll for Every Secret Thing and the screenwriter popped up as Nicole Holofcener, I found myself getting excited.  Holofcener wrote and directed the fantastic Enough Said, and while Every Secret Thing was certainly a dramatic shift away from that romantic comedy, I still held out hope that I was in for something worthwhile.  Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.

As young girls, Alice Manning and Ronnie Fuller were convicted of stealing and killing a baby and sent to a juvenile detention center for seven years.  Now eighteen and released, another toddler has gone missing and Alice and Ronnie (Danielle Macdonald and Dakota Fanning) are suspected of the crime being investigated by Detective Nancy Porter (Elizabeth Banks).  With Alice claiming that she was innocent of the first crime, she and her mother Helen (Diane Lane) try to cooperate with the police, but feel that they're being targeted simply because of Alice's past.  However, Ronnie claims Alice manipulated her seven years ago and was the true mastermind behind the earlier kidnapping and murder.  Is either girl responsible for the newest crime, are they both playing one another, or are they in cahoots again?

Every Secret Thing takes us back and forth in time, revealing little bits of the story not in a way that is inherently integral to the story, but in a way to manipulate the viewer which proves to be enervating rather than enlightening.  With stilted dialog and blatant direction of actors that makes their "secrets" seem obvious from the film's outset, first-time director Amy Berg and screenwriter Holofcener don't succeed at creating a story that feels anything other than contrived.  Elizabeth Banks is solid as the detective desperate to find the missing child, but Diane Lane and relative newcomer Daniele Macdonald inhabit characters so poorly designed that it probably wouldn't have been possible to come out of this looking good.

The RyMickey Rating: D+

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