Following the second World War, Romanian-born Maja (Noomi Rapace) has built a safe and normal life with her American husband Lewis (Chris Messina) in a small US town. They met during the war and share the same connection experienced by survivors. However, Lewis may not know the full extent of the atrocities inflicted on Maja and her family. Shame and the wish to forget the past has kept Maja from telling him. That is, until a series of events – some which will require you to suspend disbelief – compels her to.
While sitting with her young son in the park, she is riveted from her reverie by the sound of a man’s dog whistle. Spiraling back to a night she has tried to forget, she fears he is the German soldier named Karl who brutalized her and murdered her younger sister. But she cannot be sure as she can only see the back of his head. She follows him to his car but he drives off before she can get close. Another day, she follows him back to his house and loiters where she could easily be seen.
Fearful that her tragic past has come back to haunt her, she stalks the man, hoping to convince herself she is wrong. One day, she waits outside a factory where she’s found out he works, and fakes a breakdown on a convenient quiet back road. As he passes on his way home, he hesitantly comes to her aid, when suddenly she knocks him unconscious and shuffles him into the boot of the car. Maja is all prepared to do him in then, driving into woodland to an empty grave she’s already prepared and standing over him with a gun.
She buckles; she can’t kill him. Maja drives home and insists that her husband help her interrogate the man. They tie him to a chair in the basement. Begging for his life, the prisoner swears she has the wrong man, claiming he spent the entire war working as a clerk in Switzerland. Over the next several days, Lewis watches in horror as Maja torments her captive, only offering to release him if he confesses. Meanwhile, the man’s wife (Amy Seimetz) presses the police to launch a manhunt for her missing husband, putting pressure on Maja and Lewis to bring the situation to an uncertain conclusion.
At the crux of Maja’s mental state is that she believes she abandoned her sister to her fate 15 years ago. She needs to hear this man recount the events of that night, to see if the guilt she feels for not protecting her younger sibling can be released, or renewed.
Loyalties will be upended, and their marriage commitment tested. Both characters become comfortable in their roles of kidnapper and torturer – captured by a startling-casual conversation held in the chook pen in their backyard. This is more drama than thriller.
The Secrets We Keep is now screening exclusively at Palace Cinemas for a limited season. It will be available to rent via Foxtel Store from 21 October 2020.
About The Secrets We Keep
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Directed by: Yuval Adler
Written by: Ryan Covington
Stars Noomi Rapace, Joel Kinnaman, Chris Messina, Amy Seimetz