In a surprisingly good mystery drama, Dakota Fanning impresses as one of the central figures in Every Secret Thing now on DVD. Very disturbing and incredibly cunning in her performance she makes the film compelling keeping the audience off guard till the very end. Together with Danielle Macdonald in her first major role, the two along with the youngsters playing their early years, give Every Secret Thing the strength necessary to pull off one surprise after another. If you like your crime mysteries that keep you guessing, then this film should keep you entertained.
Young 11-year-old Alice Manning (Brynne Norquist) has an ego bigger than her body and a home life that’s on the edge living with her single mother. Her mother Helen Manning (Diane Lane), an elementary school teacher, urges her to get out of the house and play with Ronnie Fuller (Eva Grace Kellner), a girl her age. Reluctant to do so because her mother has an odd liking for Ronnie who lives a low income area of town, Alice only pretends to be her friend.
One day Helen insists that Alice take Ronnie to a pool birthday party for one of their classmates. Ronnie’s makes a scene after the birthday girl rebukes her gift. She’s asked to leave and Alice is told to take her away from the party. On their way home Ronnie hears a baby crying unattended in a carriage on a porch and goes up the stairs of the house to see the child. The film switches to modern day where 18-year-olds Alice (Danielle Macdonald) and Ronnie (Dakota Fanning) have come home after a 7 year incarceration for murder of the child, both pleading not guilty at the trial.
The “who done it” film gets very gripping as the mystery of what happened that fateful day gets played out. Director Amy Berg, known for her documentary film An Open Secret about child sex offenders, helms this very startling edge of your seat drama. She presents the characters showing their personalities early on and then sets up the various scenarios that affect the older Alice and Ronnie to the surprise ending. Her production crew gets the job done with very good cinematography and sets.
Both McDonald and Fanning bring credence to their roles. McDonald shows good talent for her first film and her Alice should be good enough as a break through role for future acting jobs. I like her hard luck character who despises Ronnie for being her mother’s pet and getting her locked away. McDonald makes her Alice cunning and irascible lying to her mother about searching for a job while spying on Ronnie.
Dakota Fanning is perfect for the role of the ‘across the tracks’ girl who’s shunned due to her status. Fanning’s out of jail Ronnie has already got a job and works hard trying to stay out of trouble. She’s been toughened by inmates and smart not to cause trouble. When another child goes missing in the town however, the two of them are pulled in for questioning.
While most of the seasoned cast like Diane Lane as Helen Manning, Nate Parker as Detective Kevin Jones and Elizabeth Banks as Detective Nancy Porter easily fill the shoes of their characters, two youngsters insure that the script works. Brynne Norquist plays young Alice while Eva Grace Kellner plays Ronnie at the same age. Sometimes the young rising stars get overlooked because their roles are overshadowed by accomplished actors. In the case of Every Secret Thing however, they are a large part of making the film successful. A tip of the hat for a good show and a start in what I believe could be a nice career.
The DVD has some bonus material called deleted scenes. After viewing them I can easily understand why they were cut from the film.
Every Secret thing has been rated R by the MPAA for some language and disturbing images. Be cautious when deciding to allow immature children see the DVD as it does have scenes that are inappropriate for adolescents.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A very good mystery for a night of bad TV. (B)
Specifications and additional video information:
Cast:, Elizabeth Banks, Dakota Fanning, Diane Lane, Danielle Macdonald, Nate Parker, Renee Goldsberry, Sarah Sokolovic, Common, Bill Sage, Tonya Patano, Eva Grace Kellner, Brynne Norquist.
Director: Amy Berg
MPAA Rating: R for some language and disturbing images
Genre: Mystery, Crime, Drama
Running Time: 1 hr. 33 min.
Original Theatrical Release Date: May 15, 2015
Video Release Date: August 4, 2015
Reviewed Format: DVD
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Widescreen, Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Number of Discs: 1 Disc
Distributed by: Anchor Bay Entertainment