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CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET? Is An Easy-Going Romantic Comedy Backed by Charming Leads5 min read

24 September 2019 4 min read

CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET? Is An Easy-Going Romantic Comedy Backed by Charming Leads5 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes

During a particularly turbulent plane trip, junior marketing executive Emma Corrigan blurts out in panic her deepest secrets to a hunk seated next to her. Embarrassed by the slip, she rushes off the plane only to find out the following day that the stranger is her company’s young CEO.

Director: Elise Duran

Cast: Alexandra Daddario, Tyler Hoechlin, Sunita Mani, Laverne Cox, Kimiko Glenn, Robert King, David Ebert

Year: 2019

Country: United States 

Language: English

Runtime: 94 mins

Can You Keep A Secret? is a fantasy film. We have Jack Harper, the attractive young CEO and male lead played by Tyler Hoechlin with a physique that would put Michelangelo’s David to shame. We have New York and its denizens drenched in sweet pastel colours. We have ex-boyfriends who are able to move on with little to no emotional fallout after getting dumped. 

In many ways, even down to its beats, the film is a cookie-cutter romantic comedy targeted at young women. I don’t think I am the intended audience. But I still felt that the solid performances by the two leads and the handful of laughs made for an overall entertaining albeit ultimately forgettable flick. 

Based on the novel by Sophie Kinsella of Confessions of a Shopaholic fame and directed by Elise Duran, Can You Keep A Secret? begins with junior marketing executive Emma Corrigan (Alexandra Daddario) spectacularly failing to close a sale. During her trip home, the plane faces turbulence and Emma, fearing for her life, spills all her deepest secrets to the charming man seated next to her. Emma soon finds out that she told her embarrassing secrets to her company’s CEO, Jack, and thus begins their love story bloomed from an unlikely situation. 

To round out the cast, Can You Keep A Secret? includes characters from a welcome mix of different ethnicities, sexualities and genders. However, they disappointingly only represent genre staples and hardly deviate from formula. Emma shares her apartment with best friend, Lissy (Sunita Mani), a lawyer with a secret of her own, and Gemma (Kimiko Glenn), defined by the film by her bombastic wardrobe choices. At work, Emma has a tough but caring supervisor, Cybill (Laverne Cox), and sneaks off for coffee in the afternoons with her friend Casey (Robert King) while occasionally having to deal with her colleague and overbearing soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend Connor (David Ebert).

Emma is the typical quirky romantic comedy lead sprinkled with dashes of millennial aspirations and lifestyles. She works for an organic food products company in an office that looks like a cafe for hipsters. She is insecure and often stumbles over her words. She adopts, not shops. 

While she doesn’t have the natural charm of Meg Ryan, I think Daddario does a spectacular job in her role of portraying an idealised vision of young adulthood. We keenly follow her excitement as she shakes her disbelief that someone so perfect could be in love with her, despite him knowing the supposedly worst parts of herself. She is entirely convincing as the klutzy Emma and her performance in the film’s climax as she pours her feelings out to Jack is a surprising tear-jerker. 

With most of the material centred around Emma, the character of Jack is left with little depth. What is alluded of Jack to the audience – even the reveal of what is foreshadowed as his sinister secret – are ultimately one-dimensional qualities designed to make him even more attractive. 

Being hamstrung by the weak material, Hoechlin is left with the thankless job of being the movie’s object of affection. Nevertheless, I think the performances of the leads and their convincing chemistry together both do a good enough job of keeping the audience excited for the cathartic but telegraphed fairy-tale ending. 

What does work in the leads’ favour is director Duran’s chirpy vision of New York backed by a chipper score all framed through solid – but never ambitious – camera work. One standout sequence would be where New York’s sharp lights dilate as both leads spill their feelings for each other, hammering home the intimacy of the scene.

Keeping the movie chugging along the all too familiar path is its dose of raunchy humour. Thanks to Daddario’s knack for comedic timing, some of the gags worked out well especially when they were backed by the awkwardness that ensued. However, the formula quickly tires out and ends up feeling like a crutch for cheap laughs. 

At its heart, Can You Keep A Secret? is a simple escapist fantasy that hugs close to the genre’s proven formula, armed with an equally generic message about being true to oneself. The lack of anything fresh and its spotty humour can get grating but the movie never felt like it overstayed its welcome with its brief runtime of 94 minutes. If nothing else, it is the standout performance of Daddario and her chemistry with Hoechlin that will pull the audience towards the finish line. 

Can You Keep a Secret? is now out in Shaw Theatres. Watch the trailer here:

There's nothing Matt loves more than "so bad, they're good" movies. Except browsing through crates of vinyl records. And Mexican food.