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Chris Kavan's Movie Reviews (3248)

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Every Secret Thing 
Every Secret Thing Thrives on Girl Power
2.5/4 stars

On the surface, Every Secret Thing is a standard crimer/thriller/mystery - a murder, suspects released followed by an eerily similar crime shortly after... but what sets it apart is the strong female cast and the revelation that the most manipulative people are often the most unassuming as well.

The film centers on two young women, Ronnie Fuller (Dakota Fanning) and Alice Manning (Danielle Macdonald) who were both sentenced to juvenile detention after taking and ultimately killing a young mixed-race baby. Now, after both have served their time and attempted to rejoin society, another mixed-race baby goes missing. Detective Nancy Porter (Elizabeth Banks) is on the case with her partner Kevin Jones (Nate Parker) and she soon ties the two cases together. She has little help from Alice's mother, Helen (Diane Lane) but doesn't give up on finding the truth.

I have not read the novel the film was based on, so I can't speak for how it was adapted. That said, it plays along like a typical crime drama, but the reason it stands out is nearly all-female case. Lane is excellent as a the mother who pushes for excellence even as she needles her daughter around every turn. Fanning is likewise a nice choice to play the girl from the wrong side of the tracks who is always getting into fights and trouble - a girl easy to pin things on. The real standout, though, belongs to Macdonald. She plays a quiet outcast - her weight and personality make her a solitary young girl - plus she has that mother to deal with. Yet under the somewhat cherubic face lies a cunning, cutting mind - one that belies her seemingly outside naivete. It's a wonderful performance and I think she should have a bright future ahead.

The cast really elevates this one above the standard crime fare. Plus it is great to see Amy Berg bring her documentary focus to a feature film - it really has the true-crime feel about it, and she does a great job of elevating the material. With all the complaints about Hollywood being a male-dominated industry, it is films like Every Secret Thing that reminds us women can hold their own - both in front of and behind the camera.


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