“Every Secret Thing” is based on the novel by Laura Lippman and directed by documentary filmmaker Amy Berg (“West of Memphis”) – her first fiction film. It’s a mysterious, disturbing story with Diane Lane in a role unlike any you’ve seen her play before, while Elizabeth Banks plays a sensitive police detective. Australian newcomer Danielle Macdonald walks away with the movie, though, in a multi-dimensional performance.
The story seems to start innocently enough with Helen (Diane Lane’s character) and her daughter, Alice (the young version of Danielle Macdonald’s character), having what appears to be a sweet evening between them. Then, we learn that the reasons for that sweet evening are loaded. Alice, and a neighbor girl, Ronnie, have kidnapped an African American baby who was left on the porch by the babysitter.
During the course of the movie, through flashbacks, we find out what happened to the baby. The girls were held for years in juvenile detention, and the bulk of the film’s action takes place after their release at age 18. Shortly thereafter, a similar kidnapping occurs, causing law enforcement to suspect the girls.
The pace of “Every Secret Thing” is a bit slow, but it held my attention. Since I had never read the book, there were times when I didn’t know which character to believe.
Gradually, the truth begins to unfold, and we discover that not all is as it appears to be. The most disturbing element of this story, I think, is that we see a young girl damaged by a mother who does not physically abuse her. Instead, the damage is inflicted in much subtler ways, but the results are devastating and affect a number of lives.
Dakota Fanning plays the older Ronnie, and Nate Parker, Common, Renee Goldsberry, and Sarah Sokolovic also play key roles.
It doesn’t look like there’s a trailer yet, but watch for “Every Secret Thing,” which is rated R.