Can You Keep a Secret?

Review by Rich Cline | 2.5/5

Can You Keep a Secret?
dir Elise Duran
scr Peter Hutchings
prd Claude Dal Farra, Brice Dal Farra, Brian Keady
with Alexandra Daddario, Tyler Hoechlin, Laverne Cox, Sunita Mani, David Charles Ebert, Robert King, Kate Easton, James Lipsius, Kimiko Glenn, Sam Asghari, Bobby Tisdale, Judah Friedlander
release US 13.Sep.19,
UK 4.May.20
19/US 1h31

cox ebert friedlander

daddario and hoechlin
Playing on how we conceal certain facts about ourselves, Peter Hutchings' script for this silly-breezy romcom is packed with cheap gags that director Elise Duran seems too embarrassed to put on-screen. There are amusing moments along the way, and situations are familiar enough to spark some vague sentiment, but the narrative feels so obvious that there's little left to discover. At least it's mindlessly pretty to look at.
After botching a pitch, health-food marketer Emma (Daddario) perks up when she's upgraded to first class for the flight home to New York. But when the plane hits turbulence, Emma makes a string of embarrassing confessions to Jack (Hoechlin), the random guy next to her, including the fact that she's never been in love, not even with her boyfriend Connor (Ebert). The next day, Emma learns that Jack is her company's reclusive founder. And since he has some secrets of his own, he promises not to tell hers. But romance brings its own turbulence.
It's clear from the start where this is headed, because everything is so carefully contrived. Jack is gorgeous and observant, while Emma is smart and cute. Everyone else has one silly personality trait, from the trouser-eschewing Connor to Emma's sardonic boss Cybill (Cox), with added nutty flatmates (Mani and Glenn) and colleagues (Easton, King and Lipsius). It's never difficult to stare at these beautiful people, but the lack of subtext leaves the film feeling empty. And the requisite third-act conflict feels melodramatic and corny.

The actors have some fun using their characters' single quirks to steal scenes from each other, adding some improvisational energy to the gentle goofiness. Daddario and Hoechlin are likeably smiley, although the lack of narrative tension leaves their romance inevitable rather than engaging. And while side characters are sometimes amusing, only Ebert's Connor is memorable due to his epic dorkiness. So he's actually missed when he's off-screen, which is a bit of a problem.

There's so little to this film that we begin forgetting it even as it's playing. The one emotional element, Jack obsessively talking about his late business partner, is so pushy that it feels like a plot gimmick, another shoe waiting to drop, probably with a predictable dose of schmaltz. Then one great scene between Emma and Cybill offers a glimpse of what this film could have aimed for: topical and funny, this moment actually says something intriguing about ambition and connections.

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality 29.Apr.20

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S

send your review to Shadows... Can You Keep a Secret? Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.

© 2020 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall