Monday, 4 January 2021

The Secrets We Keep

A film set in 1950’s small-town USA where a Romanian Nazi camp survivor has made herself a new life with American husband and now with small a boy. She spots someone in the neighbourhood who she is sure was a Nazi and had abused her during the war and killed her sister. She is so convinced, that she kidnaps, terrorises, interrogates and abuses him in order to get him to ‘tell the truth’ about who he is and was back then.

He denies everything and has a backstory which places him in Zurich during the war and he claims to be Swiss. But he could have made all that up and planned for this day by having a backstory. She is completely convinced of his guilt. Her husband gets dragged into the scene, wanting to support her but wavers, because she has actually never been truthful with him about her past.

So the terror and anxiety continue, the complete focus of the film, keeping the audience on the edge of their seat throughout. Was it him? Wasn’t it him? Has she been so screwed-up by her ordeals in the past that she just will see anything in her quest for justice and revenge? We get stuck into the action pretty quickly. Within 15 minutes of the film starting, she’s grabbed him and tied him up in the cellar.

Noomi Rapace plays a stunning part in this powerful drama with a phenomenally Oscar-worthy performance, depicting the terror from her past and anxiety of the present whilst battling with her nightmares and thirst for truth. Scene after scene she depicts this traumatic rollercoaster of emotion with everything she has.

Chris Messina (husband) and Joel Kinnaman (captive) support her with equally convincing performances as relatively unknown director Yuval Adler brings the very best out of the small cast. Rapace and Kinnaman also starred together in Child 44 which I reviewed in 2019. It’s a claustrophobic and intense thriller, beautifully acted with very interesting cinematography making use of thoughtful lighting and camera angles. The music is haunting throughout reminding me very much of the dungeon scenes in Silence of the Lambs.

There’s no suggestion that I can find that this is a true story, so I guess it’s not! A cracking film though written by the director and Ryan Covington and my best for 2020. Available via streaming services across Europe.

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