Review: CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET? Is A Painfully Dull Rom-Com

FIRST IMPRESSION

Nearly devoid of charm or humor, Can You Keep a Secret? will go down as one of 2019's biggest duds — a terrible romantic comedy with no heart.
Writing
Directing
Acting
Technical Merit

Can You Keep a Secret?, based on the novel of the same name by Sophie Kinsella, is a joyless new romantic comedy that is more generic and trope-laden than any other to come out this year. Because of a ridiculous plot, painfully unfunny humor, and uncommitted performances from the cast, this film is frequently excruciating to watch.

The story of the movie focuses on a woman who, overreacting to severe turbulence on a flight, makes a series of embarrassing admissions to a stranger sitting next to her, only to find out that he is actually her company’s CEO who has been absent for years. The plot is just as ludicrous as it sounds, and while an over-the-top romantic comedy can be refreshing from time to time, it is simply too hard to buy into this film.

One of the main reasons why the movie doesn’t work is that the character development is thin. Every single character in the film is extremely archetypal, making it difficult to find something to connect to within them. A majority of the protagonist’s development comes through the exposition dump of her admissions, and while her love interest does have a more complex arc, it feels forced and unnatural.

Since the audience particularly like the characters, it is unlikely that they will support the romance either. Beyond the implausibility of a CEO and a low-level employee fraternizing successfully in this era, the characters don’t have a spark between them. Their bond is formed through secrets, which isn’t the most compelling way of building chemistry.

can you keep a secret dinner
Alexandra Daddario and Tyler Hoechlin in a scene from Can You Keep A Secret? directed by Elise Duran.

However, perhaps most shocking about the movie is its almost complete lack of laughs. The humor in the film is so weird, to a point that it obviously wants to be quirky and hip, but only comes across as random and out-of-touch. One gag in the movie involves the protagonist crying when she hears the song “Demons” by Imagine Dragons. No, not crying as that song plays — crying because she hears that song. Why that song specifically? There really is no good explanation.

The stars also almost entirely lack chemistry between them. Tyler Hoechlin is legitimately charming, but he brings little heart to this role. His performance is annoyingly flat for the entire runtime of the film. Alexandra Daddario, on the other hand, has never been a very good actress, and this movie does not change that. She is not likable or charming, and this film makes that clear.

On a technical level, the movie is very unimpressive. Apart from a cute animated opening sequence, this film has very little ambition in terms of its execution. For the most part, the cinematography is oversaturated and artificial-looking. This movie’s style is a by-the-book example of what gets parodied in tongue-in-cheek riffs so frequently.

The rare film in the genre that isn’t charming at all, Can You Keep a Secret? is likely the worst romantic comedy of the year, and maybe even one of the worst movies overall. Unless if you are a fan of the book clamoring to see its adaptation, stay away from this one.

Can You Keep a Secret? hits theaters and VOD on September 13.

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Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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