FanningAm I never satisfied?

Here is a film with prominent actresses like Elizabeth Banks, Dakota Fanning, and Diane Lane carrying a woman-centered film, plus award-winning female filmmakers behind-the-camera. (Amy Berg is the director while Nicole Holofcener wrote the screenplay.)

It passes the Bechdel Test with no if, ands, or buts, so am I satisfied? Not I am not satisfied. Sad to say, Every Secret Think is a grim and tedious a mess ūüôĀ (JLH: 2.5/5)

Review by Managing Editor Jan Lisa Huttner

When a bi-racial toddler¬†goes missing, “Detective Nancy Porter” (Elizabeth Banks) immediately sets out in search of two local girls known to have murdered an African-American baby years back.

Ronnie Fuller and Alice Manning were only 11 when they kidnapped and then murdered the little Barnes baby. Now 18, they have been released from juvenile detention and sent back to the troubled homes in which they were raised.

“Alice Manning” is played in the present tense by Danielle Macdonald, a plus-size Australian actress with a couple of screen credits on IMDb, but nothing substantive. “Ronnie Fuller” is played by Dakota Fanning, one of the most accomplished young actresses of her generation. I don’t know if anyone could have rescued the Alice part from its inherent melodrama, but the talent imbalance definitely makes matters worse.¬†Every scene that Fanning is in feels tense, raw, and heartbreaking.¬†Every scene that Macdonald is in¬†strains credulity.

At the helm is Amy Berg, an award-winning documentarian making her feature film debut. And her surprising screenplay collaborator is Nicole Holofcener, well-known for trenchant Indie dramedies  like Enough Said and Please Give (all of which she both wrote and director). The film is an adaptation of the best-selling eponymous novel by Laura Lippman, so it must have seemed like a relatively safe property, and yet squeezed down to a 93 minute runtime, whatever was good about this 450 page novel is now just as dead as the little Barnes baby. Banks

Unfortunately is the main casualty is Diane Lane as Alice’s mother “Helen Manning.” Before I saw Every Secret Thing,¬†I would have said Diane Lane can do anything, but now I know otherwise. Although she starts off fine, by the end she is as crazy mad as Rosamund Pike–another actress I have always loved–in Gone Girl. But then Rosamund Pike was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her Gone Girl performance, so maybe Lane is giving just the kind of performance Hollywood now¬†requires¬†from gorgeous women aging out of f%$kability???

Curiously we find out next to nothing about the¬†Fuller Family except that¬†Ronnie¬†is desperate to escape her home in order to¬†seek solace with¬†the Mannings. Ronnie’s parents are barely¬†seen in the background–“White Trash” who live one step up from a trailer–whereas¬†Helen Manning, albeit a single mom, is at least an art teacher with the resources to raise her daughter in the¬†respectable¬†part of town.

Since I haven’t read Laura Lippman’s source novel, I can’t provide specifics, but my gut tells me there is some¬†genuine sociological depth¬†in her¬†450 pages. Alas, all that remains on screen are a statistically-improbably number of interracial relationships and a strong whiff of¬†economic bias against members of the Working Class.

The final nail in the coffin for me was a young white woman accusing a black man of rape on camera long after the audience knows that the relationship was totally consensual… Really??? Really ūüôĀ

© Jan Lisa Huttner FF2 Media (5/13/15)

Top Photo:¬†Dakota Fanning as¬†“Ronnie Fuller”¬†taking a break at her bakery job.

Middle Photo:¬†Elizabeth Banks as “Detective Nancy Porter”¬†taking a break during an interrogation scene.

Bottom Photo: Diane Lane as “Helen Manning” and Danielle Macdonald as¬†“Alice Manning” in a patrol car.

Photo Credits: JoJo Whilden/Starz Digital Media

Q: Does Every Secret Thing pass the Bechdel Test? RedA


Men are definitely on the edges of this story. All the main roles are held by women in mother/daughter, boss/subordinate, and friend/friend relationships.

Such a waste of time and talent!


It’s just as I feared… I have now read Laura Lippman’s source novel and it is actually quite good. Unfortunately, Nicole Holofcener seems to have made egregiously poor decisions¬†when writing her screenplay adaptation.

Here’s an example: When Young Alice and Young Ronnie are at the birthday party at the very beginning,¬†Young Ronnie gives the birthday girl an African-American Barbie doll. The birthday girl (who is white) looks embarrassed, all the ¬†other girls (who are also white) snicker, Ronnie gets upset, and this triggers the tragedy to come.

But why is the Barbie African-American? In the film, Ronnie’s gift seems wildly inappropriate. It¬†sticks out like a sore thumb with no explanation and no justification.

In the novel,¬†Lippman tells us that Ronnie father brings¬†a lot of rejected stuff home from work. In this case, the Barbie was probably overflow from a Christmas Toy Drive. Ronnie’s mother takes this stuff, re-wraps it, and re-gifts it, so the Barbie is very likely¬†something Ronnie herself had already rejected.

I think director Amy Berg should have shown a tight close-up of the wrapping paper, making the visceral point that the gift inside had been clumsily wrapped and then re-wrapped. Focusing on the actual contents of this re-gifted reject adds nothing but confusion.

This is just one example. Alas, I could give a dozen…

As for the rape accusation, Lippman tosses it in with the implication that the idea¬†is a “Hail Mary Pass”¬†from Alice’s attorney (a critical character in the novel who doesn’t even appear in the film). In Lippman’s version, Alice is not quite¬†so malevolent, nor is Helen such¬†an eye-rolling lunatic.

In short, I still await the day when¬†American films can show troubled women as multi-dimensional individuals rather than over-the top Bunny Murders like infamous “Alex” in Fatal Attraction ūüôĀ


  1. Greate post. Keep posting such kind of info on your
    page. Im really impressed by your site.
    Hey there, You’ve performed a great job. I’ll certainly digg it and personally recommend to
    my friends. I’m confident they will be benefited from this web site.

  2. Hi I am so grateful I found your website, I really found you by mistake, while I was searching
    on Google for something else, Nonetheless I am here now and
    would just like to say cheers for a marvelous post and a all round entertaining blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time
    to browse it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also included
    your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read
    much more, Please do keep up the superb job.

  3. After looking over a handful of the blog articles on your
    site, I honestly like your way of writing a
    blog. I added it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back in the near future.
    Please visit my website too and tell me what you think.

  4. Wonderful goods from you, man. I have understand
    your stuff previous to and you’re just extremely magnificent.
    I actually like what you have acquired here, certainly like what you are saying and the way in which you say it.
    You make it entertaining and you still take care of to keep it wise.

    I can’t wait to read much more from you. This is really a wonderful

  5. Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Many thanks, However I am going through troubles with your RSS.
    I don’t understand why I can’t join it. Is there anybody else having similar RSS issues?
    Anyone that knows the answer will you kindly respond?

  6. Hello! Someone in my Facebook group shared this website with us so I came to give it a
    look. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers!
    Terrific blog and great style and design.

  7. Fascinating blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?

    A design like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog jump
    out. Please let me know where you got your design. Many thanks

  8. Its such as you learn my thoughts! You seem to grasp a
    lot about this, such as you wrote the e book in it or something.
    I think that you just can do with a few percent to pressure
    the message home a bit, but instead of that, that is excellent blog.
    A great read. I’ll certainly be back.

  9. Just desire to say your article is as astounding. The clearness in your post is just cool and
    i could assume you’re an expert on this subject.
    Fine with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post.
    Thanks a million and please continue the gratifying work.

  10. Hi to every body, it’s my first visit of this website; this web site contains remarkable and really fine stuff in support of readers.

  11. I’m not sure where you are getting your information, but great topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more.
    Thanks for wonderful information I was looking for this info for my mission.

  12. My partner and I stumbled over here coming from
    a different web page and thought I might
    as well check things out. I like what I see so i am just following you.

    Look forward to looking at your web page repeatedly.

  13. I’ve been exploring for a bit for any high-quality articles or blog posts in this sort of area .

    Exploring in Yahoo I finally stumbled upon this website.
    Studying this info So i am satisfied to convey
    that I have a very excellent uncanny feeling I came upon just what I needed.
    I so much certainly will make certain to don?t forget this website
    and provides it a glance regularly.

  14. It’s remarkable to pay a visit this web site and reading the views of all
    friends on the topic of this article, while I am also zealous of getting

  15. Have you ever thought about including a little bit more than just your articles?
    I mean, what you say is important and everything. However think of if you added some great
    pictures or videos to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with pics and videos,
    this website could undeniably be one of the best in its field.
    Terrific blog!

  16. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished
    to say that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your blog posts.
    After all I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope
    you write again soon!

  17. I just couldn’t leave your web site before suggesting that I
    actually enjoyed the standard info an individual supply in your visitors?
    Is going to be back incessantly to investigate cross-check new posts

  18. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you
    wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some
    pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this
    is excellent blog. A great read. I will definitely be back.

  19. I seriously love your site.. Very nice colors & theme.
    Did you create this site yourself? Please reply back as I’m attempting to create my very
    own blog and want to find out where you got this from or exactly what the theme is named.

  20. Every weekend i used to pay a visit this web site, for the reason that i
    want enjoyment, for the reason that this this web page conations truly nice funny information too.

  21. Hmm it appears like your blog ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say,
    I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am
    an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything.
    Do you have any helpful hints for inexperienced blog writers?

    I’d genuinely appreciate it.

  22. Hi there, just became alert to your blog through
    Google, and found that it is really informative.

    I am gonna watch out for brussels. I will appreciate if
    you continue this in future. Many people will be benefited from your
    writing. Cheers!

  23. My partner and I stumbled over here different web page and thought I
    may as well check things out. I like what I see so now
    i am following you. Look forward to exploring your web page repeatedly.

  24. Hey would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using?
    I’m planning to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a tough
    time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and
    I’m looking for something unique.
    P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

  25. Hello exceptional blog! Does running a blog suhch as tis taoe a massive
    amount work? I’ve no expertise in programming but I wass hoping to
    start my ownn blog in the near future. Anyway, should you have any
    recommendations or techniques for new blog owners please share.
    I know this is off subject buut I just had to ask. Appreciate it!

    My siite :: Dianne

  26. What i doo not understood is in reality how you’re no longer actually much more smartly-favored than yoou may be right now.
    You are veryy intelligent. You already know thus considerably in terms of this subject, made me in my opinion believe it
    from numerous varied angles. Its like women and men don’t seem too
    be fascinated unless iit is one thing to accomplish with Lady gaga!
    Your individual stuffs excellent. All the time handle it up!

    My website – adult porn

  27. hey there and thank you for your information ‚Äď I have certainly picked up something
    new from right here. I did however expertise several technical points using this
    website, aas I experienced to reload the web ste lots off times previous to I could geet it to load properly.

    I had been wondering if your web hpst is OK? Not that I am complaining, bbut sloiw loading
    instances times will often affect your placement
    in google and coujld damage your high quality score if ads and marketing
    with Adwords. Well I am adding this RSS to my
    email and can lopok out for a lot more of your respective interesting content.
    Ensure that yyou update this again soon.

    My weeb site – Chaturbate

  28. It’s rally a great and helpful piece of info.
    I am glad that you simply shared this useful info
    with us. Pleasae keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

    my webpage: free cams

  29. Howdy! I know tis is kiknda off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you usig
    for this site? I’m getting fed up of Wordporess because I’ve had problems
    with hackers and I’m looking at optios for another platform.
    I would be fantastic if you could point mee in the direction of a good platform.

    Check oout my web blog :: Chaturbate

  30. Great blog right here! Additionally your site quite a bit up fast!
    What web host are you using? Cann I aam getting youyr affiliate link to your host?
    I wish my site loaded up as fast as yours lol

    Also visit my web blog … Chaturbate

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *