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Can You Keep a Secret? (A Movie Review)

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

Can You Keep a Secret?


Starring Alexandra Daddario, Tyler Hoechlin, Sunita Mani, David Ebert, Kimiko Glenn, Laverne Cox, Robert King, Judah Friedlander, Bobby Tisdale, Kate Easton, Sam Asghari, Ashlyn Alessi, Lexa Hayes, Olga N. Bogdanova, Crystal Tweed, Chris LeMonda, Thomas Hatz, Nacia Walsh, Austin Ferris, Rebeca Martinez, Yedoye Travis, Willis Williams, James Lipsius and Trent Falco.

Screenplay by Peter Hutchings.

Directed by Elise Duran.

Distributed by Vertical Entertainment. 94 minutes. Not Rated.

It takes a certain amount of bravery to make a movie in which a pretty woman ends up falling in love with her handsome, rich, secretive boss in the current political climate.

It brings up some interesting questions in the post-#MeToo era. Is it sexual harassment if a boss met and liked the woman before he knew she was an employee – even if he did not actually ask her out until after it was established that she worked for his company? Is it sexual harassment if the boss looks like Tyler Hoechlin and pretty much any woman is likely to throw caution to the wind in order to be with him anyway? Are there HR training films for this kind of stuff?

These are probably deeper questions than Can You Keep a Secret? warrants, because honestly there is very little deep going on here. It’s just a sweet and sitcom-y adaptation of a Sophie Kinsella novel about two gorgeous people – one of whom works for the other – trying to overcome silly obstacles to true love in a strangely pre-“woke” world. (Kinsella’s book Confessions of a Shopaholic was also turned into a movie at the absolute wrong cultural moment. It was released soon after the 2008 financial meltdown, which made that movie’s breezy, irresponsible consumerism look much more reckless than was ever intended.)

However, Can You Keep a Secret? is not looking to make any kind of political or societal points. And you know what? That’s fine. There is no law that every film must be slave to the zeitgeist, plotted with an eye on keeping up with current events and not crossing any potentially un-PC borders. It’s just trying to be a cute and slightly cheesy romantic comedy. To paraphrase a similarly cute and cheesy old song: Some people want to fill the world with silly rom coms. And what’s wrong with that?

Of course, it would be nice if they were better rom coms. Can You Keep a Secret? isn’t bad, mind you, but it’s not all that great, either. It’s a bit clichéd, very predictable, and sometimes it feels like it is trying a bit too hard. It has a strong made-for-Netflix vibe to it, even though it wasn’t made for Netflix.

It rides on one whopper of a meet cute, though not the most original whopper in the world. Emma (Alexandria Daddario) is a young wannabe marketing exec for a natural foods company who is very sweet, but very, very neurotic. She lives with her best friend (and another roommate) and has a totally unsuitable boyfriend. (You can tell he’s completely unsuitable for her because he’s relentlessly perky, likes jazz and walks around with no pants.)

When flying home from an unsuccessful business meeting in Chicago, Emma (who has a fear of flying) freaks out when they hit a bad stretch of turbulence, and sure she’s going to die she ends up excreting out her every secret to Jack (Hoechler), the handsome guy sitting next to her. I mean every secret; it’s shocking how much detail she goes into about some really obscure moments in her life.

When it turns out to be a false alarm and she returns to work – wacky complication! – it turns out that Jack is the absentee partner in her company who has been taking time off to mourn for his late business partner and best friend. He has decided to return to the day-to-day running of the company, and Emma is embarrassed every time she sees him.

Their relationship turns into a friendship and then an affair, but Emma is always bothered that he knows all of her life, but he does not share much about his own life. Then, when he accidentally betrays her secrets on local TV – moved by love and not naming her, but everyone in their orbit knows who it is – Emma is mortified and considering whether he was just using her and if she could get revenge. And he realizes if he wants to win her back, he has to open up to her.

One problem is that in the long run, both of their secrets are pretty minor, nothing earth-shattering.

Then again, let’s face it, that whole subplot is just a transparent attempt to put stumbling blocks in the way of a couple that was obviously meant for each other. And in the one nod to the current #MeToo culture, Emma has to assure her immediate boss that Jack did not use his position to seduce her.

It’s all light as a feather and occasionally a bit dumb, honestly. (Dancing lawyers???) But if you know what you’re getting into, it scratches a certain itch. It’s not going to ever be a classic romance, but if you have an hour and a half and want to shut your mind off and see gorgeous people falling for each other, you could do worse.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2019 All rights reserved. Posted: September 13, 2019.

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