I’m a romantic at heart and live for happy endings. I love romantic comedies even though they often portray unhealthy relationship dynamics and romanticize bad behavior. There are some issues in the Can You Keep a Secret movie, but I feel as though the film does a good job acknowledging these problems and addressing them. It doesn’t hurt that leads Tyler Hoechlin and Alexandra Daddario have amazing chemistry, and even the secondary characters shine.
The Can You Keep a Secret movie is based on the book of the same name by Sophie Kinsella and tells the story of Emma Corrigan (Daddario). She just bombed an important meeting and now she has to get on a flight when she’s scared of flying, so she gets drunk. When the flight hits some bad turbulence, she is convinced that they’re going to crash and ends up spilling all of her secrets to the man in the seat next to her. Then she learns that he is Jack Harper (Hoechlin), the co-founder and CEO of the company she works for.
I had a lot of preconceived notions about the movie based on the trailer, and oftentimes those can affect my opinions. Interestingly, that didn’t happen with Can You Keep a Secret. Perhaps it’s because I couldn’t stand the main character in Kinsella’s Confessions of a Shopaholic that I was prepared to be annoyed by Emma, who essentially forces all of her secrets on a person she doesn’t know and then gets mad when he doesn’t reciprocate. But this is not what happens. (I mean, it sort of is what happens but not really.) What this movie does is present a relationship where one person is more vulnerable than another, and the issues that can arise from that situation.
I’m going to say it: Jack is kind of a jerk at the beginning. Oh, yes, he’s handsome and charming, but when he shows up at Emma’s office, he uses the information she told him to make her squirm a bit in front of her coworkers. It’s played for laughs, and it bothers me that it’s at Emma’s expense. Jack is her boss. He already holds that power over her, and now he knows intimate details about her, and he’s basically using those details to amuse himself at work. He eventually stops this behavior, but it left a bad taste in my mouth for a while. I think it’s because the film makes it relatively easy to see why Jack is interested in Emma, but it’s more difficult to see why Emma is interested in Jack – other than superficial reasons.
What I liked about the Can You Keep a Secret movie is that it acknowledges all of these issues. Emma’s friends are continuingly pointing out that she doesn’t know anything about him; he’s shown even avoiding relatively harmless questions. After their relationship is discovered, her boss, Cybill (Laverne Cox) has a very heartfelt conversation with her asking if she consented and reminding her that it will make her job tougher than it already was, because no one will think she earned anything by merit. Emma herself lays it all out for Jack when he comes to apologize. These are all positive attributes about a movie where it would have been all too easy to make Emma look like the villain for wanting to know more about the man that she’s dating. (Which almost happens at the end, where because of a misunderstanding she apologizes for something she didn’t do, but it manages to redeem itself a bit after.)
What really makes this movie worth watching are the characters. Emma is endearing in an awkward way and reminds me a lot of myself – she rambles when she’s nervous, she has cartoon characters on her bedsheets (I actually do not have this but I do have more stuffed animals than an almost 40-year-old woman probably should), she dresses like a regular person and not a fashion model. Daddario does a fantastic job at making Emma’s vulnerabilities shine through while still giving her the spine and grit she eventually shows. Jack is, as I said before, handsome and charming, and after he stops being kind of a jerk, it’s kind of adorable – like the way he stumbles over asking Emma out the first time. Hoechlin is tailor-made for the role of romantic lead and that’s obvious in the soft way he looks at Emma, or in the tone of his voice when he’s describing the “girl on the street”.
Emma and Jack’s relationship may seem one-sided, but honestly they are pretty great together. Daddario and Hoechlin have really great chemistry, and their scenes together are sweet, sexy, and soft. (I have already gushed about the couch scene with Hoechlin’s bare feet. BARE. FEET.) I think one of their best scenes is when Jack reveals to Emma that he has slightly webbed feet, because it was such a genuine moment from a guy who otherwise is so locked up. That was, I think, the moment when I truly “bought” their relationship.
The side characters in the Can You Keep a Secret movie are also fantastic. Emma’s roommates, Lissy (Sunita Mani) and Gemma (Kimiko Glenn), are vastly different from each other, but somehow the dynamic works. I wish I’d gotten to see more of the three of them being roommates rather than simply discussing Emma’s relationship. As great as the humiliation aftermath scene was, my favorite Lissy/Emma scene was near the end, when Emma won’t let Lissy be mired by insecurity. Women supporting women, yay! There is also a hilarious scene in an elevator with Emma, her ex-boyfriend Connor (David Ebert), and her friend Casey (Robert King) that I just could not stop laughing at.
In short, there are a couple moments that didn’t sit right with me (and I’m actually a little annoyed that my theory that Jack’s “big secret” is that he was bi was wrong), but in general I found the Can You Keep a Secret movie to be sweet and heartfelt, with two delightful leads who sizzle and shine.
Can You Keep a Secret is playing in extremely select theaters in the US.
No, seriously, I live in New York City and it’s got ONE showtime at ONE theater. It is also available On Demand on Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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