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In Yuval Adler's The Secrets We Keep, Noomi Rapace plays a woman convinced that her new neighbour (Joel Kinnaman) is the same Nazi who tortured her during the Second World War.

Patti Perret/Courtesy of Elevation Pictures

  • The Secrets We Keep
  • Directed by Yuval Adler
  • Written by Yuval Adler and Ryan Covington
  • Starring Noomi Rapace, Chris Messina and Joel Kinnaman
  • Classification R; 97 minutes

rating

2 out of 4 stars

I don’t normally wonder so intensely about which DVDs rest on the bookshelves of filmmakers, but after watching The Secrets We Keep, I can only imagine that director and co-writer Yuval Adler has many, many, many copies of Roman Polanski’s Death and the Maiden.

In that 1994 thriller, adapted from the play by Ariel Dorfman, Sigourney Weaver plays a woman convinced that her husband’s new friend (played by Ben Kingsley) is the same man who tortured her for weeks under their country’s old fascist regime. In order to prove her suspicions, she and her reluctant lawyer husband (Stuart Wilson) kidnap the potential villain in order to wring a confession out of him.

Adler's The Secrets We Keep is a solid, well-acted and slightly predictable drama.

Patti Perret/Courtesy of Elevation Pictures

In Adler’s film, Noomi Rapace plays a woman convinced that the new fellow in town (played by Joel Kinnaman) is the same Nazi who tortured her and her sister during the Second World War. In order to prove her suspicions, she and her reluctant doctor husband (Chris Messina) kidnap the potential villain in order to wring a confession out of him.

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You can perhaps see why, then, I couldn’t stop wondering how many times Adler, and his co-writer Ryan Covington, may or may not have watched Death and the Maiden.

Whatever their viewing history might look like, the pair don’t bring much new to the themes of guilt, memory, complicity and forgiveness that were explored first by Dorfman and then Polanski. The Secrets We Keep (which is frustratingly absent a “that” in its title) is a solid, well-acted, and slightly predictable drama of morals whose novelty evaporates once you realize that the general beats of the story itself have been presented before, to far more haunting effect.

The Secrets We Keep is available digitally on-demand starting Oct. 16

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