Little Secrets (2002)

500fullIn the end when the film is over you’re left with a nagging thought, a thought that somehow ends up defeating the purpose of watching this film. You realize you didn’t leave the film with anything. There’s nothing memorable from this film and there’s nothing even remotely realistic during the story. The film centers around the character of Emily Lindstrom who is quite a complicated character. She charges kids in the neighborhood half a dollar to tell her their secrets and to give her something to hide for them. It could be anything; pieces of a broken vase, stolen money, or even a broken chess piece which is the case with her friend Philip, the new kid on the block. She hides things and keeps secrets for kids because she herself has a secret that she prefers to keep from everyone, so the secrets she hides for other kids are compensating for the secret she has.

She’s a rather musical persona during the course of the story often passionately playing on her violin which is an element to her that helps express her personality very well. The story has some good moments during the climax of the film when Rachel Wood’s character who suffers from a tragedy while mother begins to give birth to a baby. There are elements throughout the story, elements of characters and subplots that are never fleshed out, broadly emphasized and scattered among each other inevitably making a mess of everything. This is a concept for a film that could have been, but is never a whole film; there’s subplots galore within the film that also feel tacked on.

There’s the subplot with Emily who is a musician striving to get into a music school, the subplot between she and her teacher Pauline played by the under-used but talented Vivica A. Fox, there’s the subplot with her about her career, the subplot with the parents pregnancy, the subplot with Emily’s hiding secrets business which is a little contrived from “Charlie Brown”, and the subplot with the new kid in town Philip, and the subplot with his brother David played by David Gallagher from the unpleasant “Seventh Heaven”, and his subplot with his tennis camp. I’ve just scratched the tip of the iceberg regarding this film.

It relies heavily on these plots that don’t add up and feel tacked on and added at the last minute to the script and seem to compensate for a thinly plotted melodrama that never really finds a purpose or direction in storytelling. I never really cared about any of the other characters and what they were facing because they’re all so broadly and vaguely developed within the story, it becomes impossible to relate to or like any of them. Though the film is adequate in its own nature, Evan Rachel Wood manages to steal the film from the rest of the cast through her natural and charming acting abilities that help create her difficult character. The character Emily is the only one in the film who is developed, the rest seem like filler.

The character Pauline is focused on, but not enough, the characters David and Philip (Michael Angarano: Will and Grace) are thinly developed as are Emily’s friends who seem to always be at camp or some sort of commune, it’s never explained. They’re characters seem like mere add-ons that never truly take on a life of their own and never expand beyond Jessica Barondes’ written screenplay. Then when the film reaches its most desperate pinnacle, there’s a truly tacked on unnecessary and desperate attempt to pull at audience’s heartstrings involving a tragedy and a core character from the cast. I cringed at this little plot twist that seemed so blatantly developed to make one last effort to create a dramatic film, but it comes off as a pitiful endeavor. A very broad annoying and overemotional little drama but is ultimately saved from being a dud by the great performance by the scrumptious Evan Rachel Wood.