Wednesday, 20 May 2015

REVIEW - EVERY SECRET THING (AMY BERG)


The title tells no lie - an oppressively cloistered community of individuals, each individually affected by inexplicable crimes that this film barely dares to explicate, and every secret thing they know and do uncovered. You come to wonder what more depravity Amy Berg's film could possibly mine from characters it hardly deems depraved enough to behave as such; the film drives these people only ever deeper into the dirt. Strange that it should show compassion to them, unwavering compassion in fact, save a couple of last-minute reveals that feel crass and expose Berg's sub-standard technique, but that best express a poignant, largely untapped concern of Every Secret Thing - our ability to appear entirely different than we truly are, whether willfully or not. Alas, in this regard, and indeed across all areas of psychological inquiry, Berg's direction and Nicole Holofcener's screenplay show little interest between them, yet these issues persist, and could offer adequate food for thought should you wish them to (couldn't this be claimed of all crime / mystery dramas?). If Every Secret Thing's most pertinent details are its most throwaway, its most egregious are, unfortunately, its most blatant - rancid cinematography that relies far too heavily on gloom, and a number of strange performances from the cast. One must suspect that Diane Lane had as little idea of what to do with her role as the filmmakers did, but while she may hint at a more complex portrayal than the script ever does, she has at least a couple of frightfully stagey scenes; Berg's skill with actors is highly questionable. It's clear what attracted the acclaimed documentarian to this project, though what she contributes to it is a sleazy focus on shock value over genuine thought and thoughtfulness.