“Some things are easier if you can sleep through them,” sleepyhead Dakota Fanning tells Elizabeth Banks’s weary detective in what probably amounts to the mission statement posted outside the production trailer for Every Secret Thing.
An excellent cast is directed by Amy Berg to project all the colors of the emotional rainbow from vacant dissociation to slight anxiety; hitched to Berg’s equally colorless assemblage of talking-heads photography and a Lifetime-grade script about kidnapped babies, the result is a cheerless and nonsensical thriller following two young women who, as children, stole a baby from a front porch for absolutely no discernible reason.
After serving seven years in juvenile detention, Alice (Danielle Macdonald), an overweight introvert with an irritating case of vocal fry and an embarrassed mother (Diane Lane), leaves the house each day ostensibly seeking jobs. But she secretly spies on Fanning’s Ronnie. When another baby is kidnapped from a furniture showroom near the bagel shop where Ronnie works, Banks, the detective who investigated the earlier kidnapping, suspects the pair are responsible.
Look, there is no film in which Banks would be unwelcome, and Fanning is fantastically talented — how did such a dumb script attract such a great cast? Halfway through, as the film dispenses with all the obvious red herrings and unspools its series of escalating flashbacks, it becomes obvious that there’s a surprise ending coming over the transom — the foreboding sense that the dumb setup is going to pay off with a shocking, dumb narrative twist.