“Can You Keep a Secret?” Film Review

Emma (Alexandra Daddario) finds herself revealing far too much about herself to handsome stranger Jack (Tyler Hoechlin) in a pleasant, though unmemorable, romance flick

Starring Alexandra Daddario, Tyler Hoechlin, Sunita Mani, David Ebert, Kimiko Glenn, Laverne Cox, Robert King, and Judah Friedlander

The function of films is to entertain. It’s as simple as that. It’s providing an escape from the worries and stresses of day-to-day existence, and permitting you to walk a while in a different universe. Whether that universe is to simulate the sensation of slipping into a warm bath, or to put you in a tense, taut ball as you watch a thriller unravel is unimportant. Ultimately, Can You Keep A Secret?, adapted from Sophie Kinsella’s 2003 novel of the same name, is suitably diverting and, as the chick-lit genre would suggest, incredibly undemanding.

Despite being marketed as a “romantic comedy”, viewers will be disappointed to learn that there’s nothing very amusing about this film. Ultimately, it mainly comes down to trying to pass the film as palatable to a modern audience, because “romance” obviously screams girly and boring, while “romantic comedy” is passable enough to allow it to pass through the patriarchal veil and sit at the table. Ultimately, there’s no shame in the fact that it isn’t funny. Watching two reasonably realistic human beings fall in love despite obstacles is infinitely enjoyable in itself, without having to pretend as if you’re going to make me laugh while doing it. This comes back to the whole disdain that the literary and film industry has towards the “romance” genre in general, as being “fluff”. It’s a horrendous word, and since there are never any reviews calling superhero movies “silly”, I’m inclined to believe it’s yet another word to imply “girly, and therefore, unimportant”.

Bumbling junior marketing executive Emma (Alexandra Daddario) is somehow bumped up to first class during a flight and, in a terrifying bout of turbulence, ends up drunkenly divulging all of her darkest secrets about her life, including how she’s criminally unsatisfied in her relationship with boyfriend Connor (David Ebert). Thinking herself safe once back on terra firma, Emma is mortified to discover that the handsome stranger to whom she revealed too much is none other than her boss (Tyler Hoechlin), which is doubly embarrassing as her complaints about her job featured aggressively prominently in her would-be-pre-death soliloquy.

The premise itself of their meeting is delightful, though there’s nothing terribly much to separate this film from a whole host of others. The focus the film has upon Emma being a bumbling, awkward young woman who doesn’t have everything figured out is so played out within the genre by this point that it doesn’t have the impact that the screenwriters clearly think it will, regardless of Daddario’s winning performance. Hoechlin, for his part, also does the most that he can with a script that demands a tremendously noble set of acts could ever be conceivably called a terrible secret.

In case you’re wondering where the secret part of Can You Keep a Secret? comes from, it’s from a mysterious piece of information that Jack is keeping from Emma, that, of course, makes her far more paranoid than she needs to be, and is only fed by her irritating friends. It’s ultimately there to provide the film with the typical “almost breakup” moment of the film before the pair reunite, but the drama caused by each of them supposedly divulging a “secret” is massively blown out of proportion. Emma literally storms out of the office because Jack revealed all of her secrets, when really all he actually did was demonstrate how much he knew her on national television and, to somebody who was even vaguely secure, would make you realise how much they love you. Moreover, if your greatest secret is that you have a My Little Pony blanket, you’re definitely not ready for a serious relationship – you’ve got some life to live first.

Aside from the irritating and contrived obstacle to their romance (anybody would think that he was a serial killer the amount they go on about the secret he’s harbouring), Can You Keep a Secret? is a decent enough film for an evening where you don’t want to watch anything challenging or requiring of thought. Hoechlin and Daddario make a couple that’s easy to root for both individually and together, with a nicely amusing premise and a decent pace to maintain the audience’s short attention span.

Can You Keep a Secret? is streaming now on Netflix.

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