Every Secret Thing
Directed by: Amy Berg
Amy Berg (“West of Memphis”) tries her hand at narrative features with “Every Secret Thing”, and for the most part succeeds. With a strong cast and a screenplay written by the great Nicole Holofcener (“Please Give”) Berg creates a slow burn, crime drama that unfolds through a series of flashbacks. Much like her aforementioned documentary, this film focuses on ineffective parenting and the holes in the American justice system.
Detective Nancy Porter (Banks) is investigating the disappearance of a three year old girl from a local furniture store. Her two main suspects in the case are Ronnie Fuller (Fanning) and Alice Manning (Macdonald) who were convicted of kidnapping and eventually murdering another three year old girl, seven years earlier. Alice, an overweight self-loathing girl, lives at home with her disapproving, domineering mother (Lane). Her mother treats her like a curse, and in the flashbacks to her childhood even seems to prefer Ronnie as a daughter, showering her with compliments and affection. Ronnie is a reserved, depressed girl who works seven days a week and lives in an obviously unhealthy home with a mother and father that look like druggy burnouts. Everything seems to point at one of them being guilty, but Porter can’t figure out which until she starts to peel the layers and things come to light about the case seven years ago.
“Every Secret Thing” is full of good performances and excellent crime scene segments. The story is decent, if not a little unbelievable at times and it is clear from the beginning that Berg brought her “A” game. All in all, I enjoyed it. I guess my only complaint (besides the unbelievable thing) would be that it didn’t delve deeply enough into the emotional and mental scars Alice suffered at the hands of her mother’s mis-parenting of her. That is not hugely detrimental to the film though. If you enjoy crime dramas or police shows like C.S.I., you will probably love “Every Secret Thing”.