By Don Simpson | May 11, 2015
Director: Amy Berg
Writers: Nicole Holofcener (Screenplay), Laura Lippman (Novel)
Starring: Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks, Dakota Fanning, Danielle Macdonald, Nate Parker, Common, Colin Donnell, Amy Tribbey, Bill Sage, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Jaden Michael, Sebastian Beacon, Clare Foley, Paige King, Julito McCullum, Tonye Patano, Jason Pendergraft, Sarah Sokolovic, Jack Gore, Brynne Norquist, Eva Grace Kellner, Lily Pilblad, Elizabeth Schmidt
Helen Manning (Diane Lane) is a single mother who selfishly wants her 11-year-old daughter Alice (Brynne Norquist) to be friends with Ronnie Fuller (Eva Grace Kellner), but Alice is a spoiled middle class brat who wants absolutely nothing to do with Ronnie, a working class girl of neglectful parents. Helen contributes to the rivalry between the two young girls by constantly harping on Alice’s pudginess and showing favoritism towards Ronnie’s slim figure.
On one fateful day, the two 11-year-old girls discovered a baby in a stroller. While their stories about what happened afterwards differ drastically, the baby died and both girls were sent to juvenile detention for seven years. Now 18-years-old, Alice (Danielle Macdonald) and Ronnie (Dakota Fanning) are reintegrating themselves into society. It is not long before a three-year-old child of mixed race is kidnapped from a local furniture store. Alice and Ronnie instantly become the chief suspects of Detective Nancy Porter’s (Elizabeth Banks) investigation. Once again, both of their alibis seem sketchy and Detective Porter recognizes that the truth behind the current kidnapping is very closely intertwined with whatever really happened seven years ago.
Director Amy J. Berg’s (West Of Memphis, Deliver Us From Evil) first foray into the world of fiction, Every Secret Thing evolves into a confounding rat’s nest of differing perspectives. Adapted from Laura Lippman’s 2004 novel by Nicole Holofcener, the film closely analyzes Alice and Ronnie’s personalities, providing us with subtle clues about their motivations. While the “truth” is a bit too blurred to allow for much sense to be made of the meandering narrative, Every Secret Thing works best as an examination of the intense competition between the two girls, and how Alice’s mother harmfully exasperates the situation.