Little Secrets

Take the title literally: In the family film Little Secrets, the line "My brother's getting kicked out of tennis camp" counts as a twist on par with "She's my sister and my daughter." Operating from a whimsy-rich Utah suburb, 15-year-old aspiring violinist Evan Rachel Wood runs a sideline business from a homemade "Secret Keeper" stand, charging 50 cents for neighborhood kids who seek advice and a safe haven for accidentally broken belongings. One girl has begun taking in stray kittens without her parents' knowledge. Another kid has decided to tunnel to China. New neighbor Michael Angarano has broken a piece of his father's antique chess set. As Wood's big audition for the youth philharmonic nears and her family prepares for the birth of a new child, tensions of a sort begin to mount, forcing her to confront a not-too-shocking secret of her own. None of these revelations rival a severed ear or a neighbor with a taste for Nazi dinnerware, but then, Little Secrets takes place in a world so far removed from the typical cinematic suburban dystopia that it would qualify as refreshing if it didn't seem so much like science fiction. Director Blair Treu hails from Brigham Young University, and while there's nothing explicitly religious about Little Secrets, his primary influence seems to be those LDS public-service announcements in which nice people learn to become even nicer. Though pleasant, Secrets doesn't exactly make for gripping viewing, but kids may go for it. Its lessons are familiar, but it delivers them without lecturing. Better still, a heartfelt performance from Wood—a promising young actress who's also quite good in Simone—keeps all the unchecked wholesomeness anchored in a recognizably human world where troubles can't be waved away with a smile, a cup of tea, and a few moments of honest conversation.

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