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Two young girls share a criminal history with one another and we are left questioning whether it is solely the child involved that is the victim.
Review (with Spoilers) – Below
Characters & Story
Since Alice (Danielle Macdonald) was a child, it seems she could never win the love and attention of her mother (Diane Lane). No, most of what she could get from her was criticism. Making it so when Alice was forced to be friends with Ronnie (Dakota Fanning), the ideal daughter, it was perhaps the last straw.
Flash-forward 7 years and we find Alice and Ronnie being freed from prison and while Ronnie gets her life together, Alice wanders. After all, 7 years is a long time and to lose your teenage years to prison would make anyone bitter, especially when you claim innocence. Which is what you are left to wonder. Could it be, as Alice says, that because she is a big girl, and a bit bitter about how life has treated her, that she is the reason her being innocent seems like a ruse? Could Ronnie, an outcast by some standards, possibly be what Alice paints her to be? Thus allowing us to understand why Alice didn’t want to be around her in the first place? Well, only viewing the movie will tell you.
First off, this is perhaps the first movie in a while that I don’t feel like there is anything to nitpick over when it comes to Fanning. Be it because the child actress, Eva Grace Kellner, does most of the heavy lifting, or because the dead in the eyes look of Fanning fits someone who has gone through as much as Ronnie has. Fanning aside, though, the one who draws all the attention is Macdonald. The reason being is that she presents the idea that as plain and simple as Ronnie may seem, she could be far more wicked than we give her credit for. All the while she plays on the audience’s possible prejudgments, as well as Nate Parker and Elizabeth Bank’s characters prejudgments, to help push the idea that she was never in the wrong, just forced to be friends with the wrong person.
And with Macdonald’s performance and the storyline of Every Secret Thing, it almost feels like you are given a less twisted version of Gone Girl. For, until a little past halfway, it is hard to really pin down who may have done the crime. I mean, just to expand the possibilities, I thought maybe Alice’s mother could have been the one who may have participated in the crime which haunts Ronnie and Alice’s adult lives, especially as she seemed less and less of the right mindset. For just with how she was confronted at the school she works in, there came the question of whether she would be that one crazy teacher who would truly do whatever it took to protect the children in her class.
While the setup for us questioning whether Ronnie or Alice kidnapped a child in present day was handled well, I do feel like the reveal of the truth was mishandled. The reason being, there was so much time spent on Alice that sometimes it felt like you were pushed into solely focusing on her, and her life, and reasons to feel sorry for her. Meanwhile, Ronnie is being accused left and right, and yet we don’t learn much about her background besides her parents being poor and her dad stealing from his work. Thus making it so, as much as you are geared toward Ronnie possibly being the bad girl in all this, it becomes almost difficult to even see Ronnie as the villain for Alice is doing everything she can to push the focus off her and yet we rarely leave her side.
Overall: TV Viewing
Without a doubt, Macdonald should benefit from this movie in some way. Especially since there aren’t too many heavyset actresses out there who do more than comedic roles. Though, with that said, while the film had the potential to create a quality mystery, unfortunately, the film relying too heavily on Macdonald ruins a lot of the reasons you would look elsewhere for a culprit. Combine that with very little character build when it came to Ronnie, or any other possible culprit, you are left with very little reason to see Alice as completely free from guilt, no matter how much she tries to make you feel bad for her.