(Above: Noomi Rapace and Joel Kinnaman. Source: Bleecker Street Films)
The Secrets We Keep, a taut psychological suspense thriller set circa 1959, opens in theaters this Wednesday, September 16, and will be available for streaming via rental or purchase on Friday, October 16.
The story takes place in a small American town, but the secrets aren’t of the 1950s Peyton Place variety. Instead, they’re awful World War II memories held by Myra (Noomi Rapace, who gives a riveting performance) — and possibly also by a new neighbor, Thomas (Joel Kinnaman). Both immigrated to the US after the war, and each of their spouses know surprisingly little about their past lives.
So, is The Secrets We Keep another holocaust movie? Not really. Myra had been in a Nazi concentration camp, but her memories are actually about a heinous war crime committed right after she left the camp.
So is it another film about the plight of Jews after the war? No. Myra’s family were Roma, or Romanian Gypsies, another group viciously targeted by the Nazis.
The Swedish-born Rapace, who also served as the movie’s executive producer, noted on a Sunday panel run by the Forum on Life, Culture and Society that she’s one-quarter Spanish Roma herself. “Since I was a child, I’ve always had a bleeding heart for Roma,” she said. And she was naturally curious about “what stories haven’t we seen [and that] haven’t been told” on the screen about World War II.
“We did a lot of reading about PTSD,’ recalled Israeli Yuval Adler, who directed and co-wrote the movie. One factor, as told by the psychiatrist during the trailer above, is that someone can remember minute details about their trauma, but also be confused about the overall picture. And that’s the conflict Myra needs to work through.
Then, said Rapace, Myra suffers a second trauma when she finally reveals her secret to her husband and is not believed. “It’s trauma on a trauma.”
But Myra’s main battle — to get fellow immigrant Thomas to admit to what she believes is the truth — finally comes to a head in a shocking twist ending.
But does that mark the end of Myra’s nightmares? “If you have a secret, sometimes you have a catharsis,” said Adler. “Bring it out and you’re cured.” But “here, one secret is replaced with another.”
The Secrets We Keep zips along at 97 minutes, and we’ve tried to avoid revealing any spoilers that aren’t already in the trailer. If theaters have reopened in your community and you’ve been itching to get back in the movie-going habit, this is the rare new film that’s not simultaneously streaming. If theaters where you live haven’t reopened or you just choose not to go, we promise to keep the secrets of The Secrets We Keep to ourselves until it comes online in another month.
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