Swedish born actress Noomi Rapace is perhaps one of Hollywood’s best kept secrets. Of course Rapace first became known for her gritty performances as the determined Lisbeth Salender in the Scandinavian films that became known as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo franchise, but since then Rapace has put in a number of great performances that should have made her a household name.
From that original franchise Rapace made the switch to Hollywood pretty seamlessly appearing in blockbusters including Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows and Promethesus. Still Rapace has never become the A-Lister that her talents warrant her to be. Perhaps it has been because her best performances have been in more off-beat films like the crime thriller The Drop and the sadly under-rated Angel Of Mine. Now Rapace brings her A-Game to the suspenseful The Secrets We Keep… a film that has jumped straight onto my ‘must see’ list for 2020.
Directed by Israeli director Yuval Adler (Bethlehem) The Secrets We Keep is set in post-World War II America. Rapace plays Maja who tells the citizens of this small town that she was ‘kept out’ of the war mainly but met her American born husband, Lewis (Chris Messina – Argo), while he was stationed as an Army doctor in Europe towards the end of the conflict.
The truth about the war and Maja begins to come to the surface though when she becomes obsessed by their new neighbour Thomas (Joel Kinnaman – RoboCop) whom she then kidnaps demanding that he come clean about his past and the vile acts that he has committed. As Lewis then becomes involved in the plot he must try to not only deal with the past that his wife has kept secret from him but also try to work out if Thomas is the man that Maja claims he is or whether this is a case of mistaken identity.
The Secrets We Keep is made a truly remarkable film by the performances of its three leads. Rapace, Messina and Kinnaman are a tour de force in this film and while they were asked to perform some of the most confronting and hard-edged scenes they will ever be likely to perform in their careers they did so with such amazing ability that this is a film that will stick in the minds of its audience for a long time to come.
Early on it is a little unsettling how similar the themes of the movie are to Rapace’s last film Angel Of Mine. Once again she plays a mentally affected woman, haunted by her past who is making claims about somebody that has come into her life. Ironically the dialogue that she shares with Messina early in this film mirrors the lines that she delivered with Luke Evans who played her on-screen ex-husband in Angel Of Mine.
When that little quirk moves out of the way though The Secrets That We Keep becomes a truly sensational film. The twists and turns throughout the film keep the audience guessing while you find yourself debating whether Thomas really is who Maja says he is. That of course then leads the audience to ask the inevitable questions – what do they do with Thomas if he is who he says he is and what happens to Maja if Thomas is innocent? The fact that the screenplay comes solely from Maja’s point of view also means the audience is never sure whether they are being shown the truth or not as well… a great plot device that only makes the film an even more intriguing watch.
While the amazing screenplay is a lot of why The Secrets We Keep is one of the films of the year a lot of credit must also be paid to the cast. Rapace is brilliant throughout the film – whether it be a scene where she must re-live her painful secret to her husband or whether it is a moment of brute force as she tries to extract the truth from Thomas she never fails to deliver, and while the Academy would never acknowledge a film like this in a million years this is exactly the kind of performance that should land an actress nomination after nomination. If there was any question over Rapace’s brilliance as an actress then The Secrets We Keep will silence those critics forever.
Some of the more violent scenes in The Secrets We Keep maybe a little off putting for some audience members, but if you enjoy a well-written thriller that brings out the best in its cast then this is a film that you should check out.