The Secrets We Keep (MA) - 98 minutes
The pall of what she experienced as a Romanian gypsy at the tail end of World War II sits heavily on Maja’s (Noomi Rapace – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) shoulders, but to this point she has kept the dark secret to herself.
She has forged a new life with her husband, Lewis (Chris Messina – Argo) – a GP – and young son in small town America.
15 years have passed and the nightmare of what was is about to return.
It happens when she hears a strangely familiar whistle while at a park with her son.
And then again subsequently, when she notices the same tall man (Joel Kinnaman – Hanna) who whistled in town again and follows him.
Worse is to follow as she is compelled to take the man – who is married with two young children of his own – captive to extract the devastating truth from him.
He denies he is an ex-Nazi perpetrator of heinous crimes against her, her family and many others.
He insists that he is Swiss and never saw action during the war.
Maja’s husband hasn’t always had it easy with her as she has suffered nightmares in the past and was put under the care of a psychiatrist.
Her memories of the last chapter of the war are fragmented, but she is in no two minds about this man and what he did.
All this is, of course, a bombshell to her husband who isn’t sure where the truth lies.
Before this is over blood will be spilt.
It is the intensity of performance by Rapace that will be my enduring memory of The Secrets We Keep.
Hers is a commanding presence.
She is relentless – so much so that you dare not avert your gaze.
The look in her eyes says it all.
From the outset, there is a sense of dread that permeates the picture.
Horror, anger and outrage are ever present, juxtaposed with the naive neighbourly delights of a gentler era.
The filmmakers have done a fine job capturing the look of provincial USA circa late '50s.
The period detail – everything from the sets to the costumes, props and cars – is mighty impressive.
I knew where the plot was heading – that was pretty obvious (the film signals its punches too much) – and I felt the interrogation dragged somewhat.
Once it was revealed what Maja had endured, there were only limited opportunities to take that further.
That had everything to do with the plotting by Yuval Adler and Ryan Covington (Adler also directs).
Our sympathies rest with Maja throughout.
Still, there is one welcome twist as The Secrets We Keep nears its conclusion.
So, even with a fewer flatter moments, the movie has bite.
Rated MA, it scores a 7 to 7½ out of 10.