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The Secrets We Keep - Film Review

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Published September 10th 2020
When past trauma confronts you, can you trust your memory?
the secrets we keep 2020 film review, cinema, entertainment, performing arts, night life, date night, movie review, yuval adler, ryan covington, noomi Rapace, joel kinnaman, chris messina, acgtors, actresses, agc studios, di bonaventura pictures, echo lake entertainment, kirkhaus films, fibonacci films
Images © AGC Studios, Di Bonaventura PIctures, Echo Lake Entertainment

Maja (Noomi Rapace) and her husband Lewis (Chris Messina), a doctor, have a cosy life in a small US town, post-WWII America. That's until one day, whilst at the park with their son, a very distinct style of whistling grabs Maja's attention. She gets a glimpse of the stranger (Joel Kinnaman) and follows him. She's alarmed as she recognises him as a German soldier named Karl who brutalised her and murdered her younger sister 15 years ago. She stalks him to be sure - decides it's him and kidnaps and holds him captive in the basement.

Her husband finally hears the truth about her past, but the intensity of the situation thrust upon him, has him reacting and questioning her memory. He looks into the captive's declaration that he's not who Maja thinks he is, but that he's Thomas, a family man with children who sat the entire war out in Switzerland. His papers seem to check out, but Maja is adamant he is her abuser. She interrogates and torments her captive over several days as her husband watches on, horrified. She's after acknowledgement and a confession, but after 15 years and suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), can her memory be trusted?

The Secrets We Keep will screen exclusively at Palace Cinemas (Palace Norton Street, Palace Verona, Palace Central, Palace Byron Bay, Palace James St, Palace Barracks, Palace Electric Cinema & Palace Raine Square) for a limited season from 17 September 2020 . It'll then head to Foxtel on Demand on 21 October 2020.

Directed by internationally-acclaimed director Yuval Adler (Bethlehem), this 97-minute indie-thriller has cast Swedish superstars Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Joel Kinnaman (Hanna) and Chris Messina (Sharp Objects) in the lead roles.

Character-driven, you'd expect nothing less than captivating performances, which are delivered in spades by Rapace and Messina who plays her husband. As Maja, a Romani survivor torn between revenge and reconciliation, this film is the perfect vehicle for Rapace. She has the ability to get under the skin of her characters and draws thirstily on her wealth of talent, giving a strong performance. As the central character, one moment she's an avenging angel, the next a zealous truth-seeker. The details of the trauma have been lost to her and she wants to know what really happened. Thomas aka Karl the German soldier is the only person she thinks can tell her. Replace had to portray extreme anguish for most of the film, and was able to keep the intensity without overdoing it.

Chris Messina as Maja's husband Lewis is no mouse either, even though his on-screen wife was playing the tormentor. His intensity matched hers, which kept his character very much central and pivotal to the story. He was spinning on the same axis as Rapace, as he kept his character inline, without going sappy or soggy as a husband with innate goodness; an honourable person trying to figure out how to do the right thing while trying to protect his wife, sometimes from herself.

For the most part, Kinnaman as Karl is gagged and bound but does well not to appear passive, considering he isn't speaking as much as his counterparts. Whether tied to a chair, having an emotional moment or leaping up for an action sequence, he manages to carry himself in a way that communicates and translates well, however, he's a little bit outshone by Rapace and Messina who have the larger slice of the bite.

Set in the 1950s, a time of conformity and strictly-defined social roles, Maja's character stands out as a strong, unconventional character. There's also a strength in the emotional arc of the story, while it equally ratchets up the suspense and intensity that's sustained throughout. The small American town is like every small town of that era, without pointing to any specific place. The basement where the captive was interrogated suitably created an appropriately claustrophobic atmosphere and a vintage palette overall gave the whole film authenticity and atmosphere. Everything about the film supports each element and comes to life, pulling you into the intensity of the plot. Definitely one to watch.

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When: 17 Sep 2020 - Limited season
Where: Screening exclusively at Palace Cinemas. Limited season from 17 Sep 2020. Available to rent via Foxtel Store from 21 Oct 2020
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