Every Secret Thing

Every Secret Thing ★★★★

Problematic but chilling adaptation of a Laura Lippman novel about two girls involved in an infant's death; the script, written by Nicole Holocener, keeps viewers guessing about what happened with the baby, what happened between the girls, how it relates to who the girls are seven years later, and how it relates to another recent child disappearance. The performances are stunning, particularly Danielle Macdonald as the older incarnation of one of the girls (Dakota Fanning plays the other). And this is an interesting stretch for Holofcener, with some of the vitriol and many of the issues of her own films (particularly regarding the many ways women relate to each other), but with a tighter, more thriller-like, more conclusive plot, and a dreamier air. The problem is that the narrative seems unbalanced, both between past and future, and with a sense of not knowing who the focus is, and thus what the story is, until late in the film. In particular, Fanning's character seems so underdeveloped that the eventual resolution of her storyline feels perversely inconclusive and a little melodramatic. This film almost feels like it could have been a successful miniseries; there's a lot going on here, but it just seems to imply so much more happening.

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