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Every Secret Thing (2014)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  15 May 2015 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 374 users   Metascore: 46/100
Reviews: 4 user | 13 critic | 15 from

A detective looks to unravel a mystery surrounding missing children and the prime suspects: two young women who, seven years ago, were put away for an infant's death.



(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Alice Manning
Kevin Jones
Devlin Hatch
Paul Porter
Evelyn Fuller
Dave Fuller
Cynthia Barnes (as Renee Goldsberry)
Ryan Fuller
Mary Paige
Mrs. Paige


A detective looks to unravel a mystery surrounding missing children and the prime suspects: two young women who, seven years ago, were put away for an infant's death.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

based on novel | See All (1) »


Don't look away for even a second.


Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language and disturbing images

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

15 May 2015 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Minden titkos dolog  »

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Did You Know?


In (2010), Frances McDormand originally approached friend and filmmaker, Nicole Holofcener to direct the movie, as well as adapt the book into a screenplay. While Holofcener doesn't direct, she is still attached to the film and receives a writing credit. See more »

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User Reviews

Intriguing themes but contrived suspense
4 May 2015 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

Plot gimmicks are all the rage in TV and movies today - twists and explanations once reserved for "immoral" (or properly amoral) roadshow exploitation films in the '30s and '40s (when there was a Production Code limiting mainstream cinema content) are now commonplace.

These crutches to fool or confuse an audience in the quest for a "surprise" ending (or series of anticlimactic endings) sink the promising film EVERY SECRET THING, a title which heralds the use of several deus ex machina gimmicks that masters of suspense and mystery like Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie would have blue penciled away before publication.

Another warning was opening credit Starz Digital Media, implying this movie is not a film but rather what we used to call a TV movie back in the day before ancillary media morphed into primary outlets. Noted in IMDb as a pet project for actress turned producer Frances McDormand, I will not quibble with its fine intentions, only with the lousy execution.

Structurally film gets off to a rocky start with a prologue that features "3 days earlier" card (cuing first of perhaps 50 flashbacks, some useful, many extraneous storytelling crutches), and then the key events setting up the tale are all presented in newspaper headlines during the credits sequence. Basically two 11-year old girls are sent to prison for kidnapping and murder of a Black infant girl, and film proper picks up with their lives 7 years after, out of stir and adjusting to the outside world.

As adapted by Nicole Holofcener and shakily directed by Amy Berg, movie turns into a suspenser and police procedural, revolving around both who (really) dunnit and also the psychological why? behind the crime. As 18-year olds the two contrasting girls are played by star Dakota Fanning as Ronnie, not helping her cause in transition from child star to adult actress in a one-note, buttoned-up performance as the seeming "dom" of the femme couple and Danielle Macdonald as Alice, giving a very strong, central turn as the seemingly self-loathing obese "sub" of the pair.

Structural resemblance (minus all the sex, of course) of the early reels to one of the hundreds of popular Lesbian psychodramas in the video market is evident, as all the characters are female. Men are later introduced into the mix in subsidiary roles, of which Common, the famous rapper, gives the movie's best performance as the not-by-blood parent of a missing girl whose disappearance at a furniture store immediately brings our anti-heroine pair under suspicion. Both kidnappings involve interracial couples and their female offspring, a quite interesting mystery clue.

Cop on the new case is Elizabeth Banks, obviously cherishing a cast-against-type tough (yet still vulnerable) lady role, but hampered by a poor plot gimmick that makes her the same cop who was traumatized by finding the very same dead girl that put Ronnie & Alice in jail seven years earlier (though no one in the cast knows this -only Banks and the audience). Other central figure (and the reason I wanted to see the movie in the first place) is lead actress Diane Lane, given an unplayable role as a teacher who is Alice's mother that ends up with her delivering exposition on several key twists, none of them credible, but the ostensible "solution" to the mystery in the final reels.

I cannot go into too much detail without exploding several spoilers, but suffice it to say that unlike a legitimate, classical mystery structure (think the Clue board game at the extreme) there is a key character not introduced in the film proper but only in the myriad flashbacks later on that is necessary to make any sense of what happened. I suppose that 21st Century audiences massaged by the hit acronym TV procedurals ("CSI", "NCIS" plus granddaddy "Law & Order") or influential head- scratcher series "Lost" are used to this, but it ruined the movie for me.

Further detraction is use of the familiar literary trick: "the unreliable narrator", in this case not RASHOMON but rather intentionally misleading flashbacks early on to represent the point-of- view of untruthful characters, later contradicted by other characters' flashbacks and finally cleared up by the revelations involving personages we never hear from at all, but are merely cogs in the flashback structure. Filmmakers and film editors may be proud of such clever devices, but for me they are simply audience cheats.

Except for many sunlit scenes of Alice haunting a pool at country club which opened the film and later wandering the streets seemingly aimlessly (but also a key hint to mystery's unraveling), the film is ugly, probably a function of the budget-wise but artistically detrimental practice of shooting digital rather than using motion picture film stock (even though the credits misleadingly say shot in Panavision to confuse us old-timers (probably referring to lenses)). I saw the movie in a theater so I can hold it to a higher standard.

Berg and company also err in using the horror-film format of endless tension and no release - a gimmick that rather than keeping me on the edge of my seat (as intended) just bored me to death. The release doesn't come until the final twist ending, which had me wishing the Hays Office Production Code was still in effect (I'm being cryptic to avoid broadcasting the twist to readers who haven't seen the film yet).

Some will find it fun, even a cute ploy, but for me it was merely the latest in an uncountable line of stupid gimmicks dating back in the modern era to the influential trick ending of Brian DePalma's CARRIE -considered a classic in many quarters but a film I detested back in 1976 when seen in first-run with a packed and appreciative audience (so you can easily calibrate where I'm coming from).

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