Every secret thing by Amy Berg

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Every secret thing Amy Berg review
A mother's love?

Some movies spell it out for you, some leave it all up in the air. Some depend on you to fill the blanks, to use your empathy, apply it on the people you are watching. This understanding will draw you in. Every secret thing, adapted to the screen by Nicole Holofcener and directed by Amy Berg, had a lot of critics bristling. Not one of the characters is likable! It is such a strange notion. Especially for a thriller. Is it necessary to like someone, root for someone in a crime drama, or can it be intriguing not too? And, are the characters in Every secret thing really that unpleasant?
A movie about irredeemable women. That was what producer Frances McDormand had in mind when she bought the rights of Laura Lippmann's book. Some critics responded, ironically: she has succeeded. Apparently it's not a good thing. In the wake of amazing Amy, you would expect us to have build a tolerance.  But enough about Rotten Tomato score and its maddening shortcomings.

Every secret thing begins with every little girl Gilmore Girl fantasy. Staying up late with your mother (no dad in sight) doing your nails, baking cookies. We can see it in her hungry eyes, that is all Alice Manning 11, wants. She is lying on the floor, her legs on the bed. As she sees her mom, Helen, (Diane Ladd) and the room upside down, the reality of that moment is also topsy turvy. The spell breaks  assoon as Ronnie Fuller, also 11, comes to pick her up. Alice doesn't want to be friends with Ronnie. Her trashy ways bring Alice down in the eyes of the other girls. But her mother insist. Why? Well not out of the goodness of her heart. Or does she?

Every Secret thing shows us the day leading up to the first crime through Alice eyes. It is a formative day for her.  The day she learns her mother prefers Ronnie above her, and if that isn't enough, Ronnie ruins everything by getting them thrown out of the popular girl's birthday party.
Alice, the narrator, tells us what happend next. When they walk home, Ronnie sees an baby carriage left outside on a porch. She decides that the adorable biracial baby belongs to her, and against Alice's objections decides to take her.
Every little secret involves two mysteries, the abduction of this girl is followed, seven years later, by another abduction of a biracial girl. Alice (Danielle MacDonald) and Ronnie (Dakota Fanning), who have spend seven years in juvenile detention for the murder of the first girl, just happen to have been released a few day earlier.
Laura Lippmann, when she wrote Every secret thing, was inspired by the real murder of Jamie Bulger committed by two depraved teenage boys. But instead of descending in the mind of real evil, Every Secret thing explores the fragile, and disturbed mind of teenage girls. Its another ballgame altogether.

Detective Nancy Porter (Elizabeth Banks) was the agent that seven years earlier discovered the body of the baby. With her partner (Nate Barker) she starts investigating and the four women involved in the first case must again square against each other, searching for the truth.
I think a lot of critics stumbled here, confused about the notion of truth in Every Secret thing.
It all hinges on the real nature of these women.
Helen Manning. The mother. The free spirited art teacher. The Lorelai to Alice's Rory.  The more we get to know her, the more she strikes as the worst kind of women. The women we all fear. The one, who will never tell you that she despises you, au contraire. The one that rakes all the benefits by pretending to be nice, but meanwhile oozes contempt from every pore. But then again is Alice's mother right, in protecting Ronnie?
Isn't Ronnie the crazy one, the bad girl? The one that decided to kill the baby. The one that lead her daughter Alice on this criminal path?
Alice is still narrating part of the story. She is telling us who she is, a fat girl, unloved by her mother. She tries to make something of herself, trying to pick up her life, to loose weight, she goes walking every day. She wants to stay away from the bad influence of Ronnie. But there is something creepy about her. Her insistence, her victimhood.

Every secret thing Amy Berg, Dakota fanning review
It's all in those eyes.


The best thrillers create a contained space, a stifling cocoon, a high pressure cooker. Every Secret thing is filmed as there is a mist dwindling around in the room. Everything is upside down, obscured, a smile a sneer. It doesn't help that the main detective on the case is still traumatized by the first one.
Every secret thing skips a few steps in unraveling the plot. It isn't much invested in the detection of the case. The search for the solution is done by trying to get in the head of these women.
Where humiliation, shame, jealousy, naiveté, narcissism, and longing are all balled up.
The real life Jamie Bulgar murder shocked us by showing that real dark evil can come in guise of a teenage boy. The eternal question remains is evil innate, is it character, are we dealing with a psychopaths? Or can it be a consequence of circumstances? Every secret thing leaves the question in the middle, it shows the circumstances that breed despicable acts, but it also gives us a new Amy, her last smile one frozen. Irredeemable? That's up to us. You will like this movie, if you feel comfortable understanding someone completely, in the meantime questioning yourself if she is still fooling you.


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