Directed by Yuval Adler
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Christopher Messina, Joel Kinnaman, Amy Seimetz
Runtime: 97 Minutes
Rating: R (For strong violence, rape, some nudity, language and brief sexuality.)
As I’ve stated before Hollywood is slowly rolling out new films. The choices were slim this week but the premise sounded like something interesting to watch. Good news is I hear a rumor that cinemas will be re-releasing Empire Strikes Back to celebrate the 40 year anniversary!!! Stay tuned for more on that. The film for this week is called The Secrets We Keep. It is actually a remake of a film starring Sigourney Weaver and Sir Ben Kinglsey called Death of a Maiden and based on a Chilean play from 1990 with the same name by Ariel Dorfman. This film has been adjusted to allow American audiences to “relate” more to the subject matter. A warning on this one, It’s no Bill & Ted.
Onto the film.
We open innocently enough. Bubbles fill the air as Maja Stowe (Rapace) plays with her son in the park. Immediately you notice this film is set post-WWII with the vehicles on the road and the outfits the characters wear. The score helps drive this home as well. Immediately the tension starts to build. Maja notices a make who looks familiar to her. You can see a sense of dread on her face as she starts to follow him. He disappears. She lights up a cigarette and contemplates if this was the man she remembers. A note on her smoking. I think she smoked 3 packs of cigarettes throughout this film. I almost thought that Big Tobacco had been investors. It became distracting throughout. We get it. She smokes. Maybe I’m nitpicking here.
We then learn of her husband Lewis (Messina.) He is a doctor at the local hospital and his wife Maja works with him. It seems she handles the clerical duties. We learn he was in WWII as most were, and they had met when he was overseas. Maja is Romanian, and we later learn a gypsy.
We get a nice back and forth between our two stars as their chemistry is apparent from the start. This is extremely important as you’ll learn when you see this film. The visuals on this film were also an unexpected surprise. Various shots are shown through windows, and in cars as if we are in the car with the characters. Pretty neat.
We then get back to Maja and the man she has been following. His name is Thomas (Kinnaman) and she is certain he’s actually a Nazi and was part of a group who brutalized her sister, herself, and a group of others. He proclaims he is Swiss and didn’t fight in the
war. Throughout this film it has you question what is true and what isn’t. There are comments about Maja’s mental health and that she has had “episodes” before. Was this true or a figment of her imagination?
I won’t delve anymore into the plot but I will say this becomes a cat and mouse game. You will question all of the characters. Their motives, who’s who, and how far will each person go? This is where the acting places a large part in the success of this film. If the acting was flat, or you didn’t see a connection with man and wife, I don’t know if you would buy into this. Thankfully, it works, even with Maja smoking a cigarette every 5 seconds.
This film is hard to rate because I’m not sure it was released at the right time. This plays out around the Fourth of July. So maybe there it would have been better? Then again, we are currently living in strange times. We don’t always go to a film to feel happy. I love horror movies and I usually leave the theater with a somber feeling, or all the lights on at home! This film was just depressing. The acting was great. The cinematography was excellent, as well as the set designs/costumes. The technical details all check off but again this plot is a touch cookie-cutter and honestly you’ll leave with a shrug. Maybe right not I desire feel-good stories, but then again Unhinged wasn’t that and I was impressed. The history in this film is nice, and anything WWII or post-WWII is always welcome. I just felt empathy for the characters and the tale felt like being at a dinner party and the hosts start arguing. THIS ESCALTED QUICKLY! If you miss the theater like me, give this a shot. The acting is top notch and for that alone it’s worth the price of admission. As I said this is not a feel good story, even if the cinematography make it nice to look at. There are also a few shocking scenes I grimaced at. I’ve said this before, but PLEASE go support local business, and our theater. Blockbusters will return, horror movies hopefully in October, and….maybe some classic Han Solo. “NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS!” 3 stars out of 5
This writer’s opinion is their own and not the opinion of this newspaper