Director: Yuval Adler
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Joel Kinnaman, Chris Messina, Amy Seimetz
Runtime: 1 hr 37 mins
Rating: NC16 (Sexual Violence & Coarse Language)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 17 September 2020
Synopsis: In post-WWII America, a woman (Noomi Rapace), rebuilding her life in the suburbs with her husband (Chris Messina), kidnaps her neighbor (Joel Kinnaman) and seeks vengeance for the heinous war crimes she believes he committed against her.
It has been 75 years since WWII ended. The invasion of the Japanese in Singapore remains a crucial part of our history while on the other side of the globe, the Europeans will always be haunted by the thought of the Holocaust.
The Secrets We Keep is an engaging drama inspired by events that happened post-world war. Set in a small U.S. town, Maja (Noomi Rapace), a Romani survivor of the world war is married to the local doctor, Lewis (Chris Messina) and has a young son. Life seems peaceful and ordinary until one day Maja spotted a man (Joel Kinnaman) that resembled the German soldier that brutalized her and her younger sister 15 years ago.
Convinced that the man is the culprit that torment her dignity and mind, Maja sets up to kidnap him and have him locked up in the basement of their house. Unable to bring herself to shoot him, Maja decides to interrogate him into confessing. The man named Thomas continues to deny about his involvement in the war declaring he is a Swiss clerk who worked in the transport department. Did Maja made a huge mistake or Thomas is actually a monster in disguise?
Directed and co-written by Israeli Yuval Adler (The Operative), The Secrets We Keep raises one riveting moral question throughout. Given the scenario, do you opt for forgiveness or go down the path of revenge? Does killing the murderer appease the demons in your heart? Is it a justifiable act then? Maja constantly struggles with the thought that she sought out the wife of Thomas hopefully to seek out some truth out of it.
Lewis not entirely convinced that Maja is telling the truth preferring to rely on scientific evidence and facts from the horse mouth before advising Maja to take any further action. Maja who withheld her past heritage and trauma from Lewis of course caused additional dent on their already fragile relationship. Part of Thomas’ capture also revealed Maja’s psychological sufferings which Lewis believed is the core reason for her action.
Noomi Rapace who also produced the flick delivered a complex performance as the PTSD suffering Maja. The movie focused heavily on Rapace’s character all the more interesting given that everything onscreen is seen through her perspective. The constant black-and-white flashbacks which recount the night where the attack took place and her subsequent disclosure of her fragmented thoughts which may have repercussions on her statement.
Joel Kinnaman’s involvement as the seemingly ordinary immigrant from Switzerland fails to measure up to Rapace. Honestly, there’s only so much an actor could do since he’s being tied up and torture throughout the 97 minutes movie. The acting of respected character actor Chris Messina (Birds of Prey) opposite his onscreen wife is strong and well-liked.
The Secrets We Keep is thus a deeply unsettling movie about confronting the past and meting out justice. The reason it works so well is it’s female star, Noomi Rapace. Obviously, it’s not the kind of blockbuster that features well-staged ambitious action sequences nor is it based on a true historical based event. There’s a bit of tension in the middle and dramatic telling towards the end but generally, Adler is more keen to talk about the subject of humanity and morals rather than delivering a straight-out bloody revenge tale.
(Noomi Rapace is great in this admirable dialogue-driven tale)
Review by Linus Tee