Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Secret Smile

Bit of a hiatus in my reviewing of stuff.  I think my brain atrophied after recent surgery but it seems to be back now.

The last couple of nights I treated myself to Secret Smile, a psychological thriller from 2005 that is sort of Bridget Jones with stalking and domestic violence.  Based on a Nicci French novel, the two-parter is on Youtube in several snatches, each of ten minutes.  Until recently on Youtube this was normal – like watching an old movie in several reels.  Fortunately you don’t have to load up a new spool to your projector, you just faff around until you find the next bit.

Perhaps this disjointed nature of viewing helped with the sense of unease.  The female protagonist is Kate Ashfield out of Shaun of the Dead, playing much the same character, with a frown so deeply creased between her eyes it looks like she had been pressed in a book.  Her presence is rather overshadowed by the pre-Doctor Who David Tennant, playing an utterly charming, right nasty bastard called Brendan Block, whom everyone thinks is so wonderful that Kate Ashfield must be really foul, jealous or mad not to like him.

In a nutshell, Miranda (Kate) shags our pre-Doctor and when he turns out to be limpety and lets himself in to her flat after the briefest of relationships and reads her diary, dumps him.  “Bitch”, he says, and then proceeds to wreck her life and that of a few others. 

The problem lies herein:  it’s all a little bit far-fetched.  Nobody believes Miranda when she says Brendan is an evil, calculating bastard, not even her best friend or her mum.  They trust him and love him as if he were Jesus.  If I were Miranda I would have fucked off and left them to it, not walked around looking like a bruised flower, trying to persuade people otherwise. 

Without spoiling the ending I will tell you that Miranda appears to come to a sticky end.  Her parents seem only to be mildly put out by this, as if they had missed the first day of the Harrods sale.  Brendan really does come to a sticky end, and the final shot as he starts 22 years in prison is of him giving good sulky cheekbones against the prison wall while the other prisoners play a jovial game of footer. 

The comments on Youtube were revelatory.  Most of the viewers had stumbled upon Secret Smile via their fanboy/girl obsession with the Doctor, and thought Brendan was terribly hard done by, because 'The only thing we know Brendan is guilty of is sexual harassment, rape and domestic violence'.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Obviously their view is affected by the fact that David Tennant is a nice bloke and played (in the future) a nice Timelord, so they have conflated the characters and wrapped them in worship.  Therefore “his” punishment looks harsh. 

This gives us an interesting parallel with the way Miranda’s family is taken in.  Whilst I have no doubt that David Tennant is a lovely and splendid chap in real life, anyone who has ever been on the Mumsnet discussion boards will have seen that “nice guys” can also be secretly abusive, which is how they often get away with it.    

Secret Smile (TV Movie) 2005
Director: Christopher Menaul
Cast: Kate Ashfield, David Tennant, Claire Goose

No comments:

Post a Comment