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The Secret

3.9 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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(Aug 12, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In the spirit of Ghost and Birth, Hannah and Benjamin (Lili Taylor, Six Feet Under and David Duchovny, The X-Files) are a happily married couple whose love is tested in ways they never could have imagined in this touching supernatural drama. But when Hannah is killed in a car accident, the couple's strong bond may be responsible for an unusual twist of fate that keeps their love alive -- at the expense of their daughter (Olivia Thirlby, Juno).


Compared to pallid supernatural romances like Ghost, The Secret is a fireball of Freudian pathos about a love triangle between parents Benjamin (David Duchovny) and Hannah Marris (Lili Taylor), and their teenage daughter, Samantha (Olivia Thirlby). Directed by Swiss actor Vincent Perez, The Secret succeeds where other cheesy ghost films fail because there is always the possibility that after Benjamin's wife, Hannah, dies in a car accident and comes back to inhabit her daughter's body, Benjamin will be lured into his daughter's arms by sheer grief commingled with desire. The film's operates with increasing tension throughout, starting when Benjamin decides to believe that Sam is temporarily not Sam, but his wife. There are sappy scenes, such as when Sam, as mother Hannah, returns to high school following the accident and flails terribly in teenage situations. But the notion of a mother spying on her daughter through possession recalls Mommie Dearest, in a great way. The real credit in this film goes to Thirlby, who in essence plays two characters well, switching identities throughout. The sexual innuendo she brings to the part adds the zest The Secret needs to elevate it from a suburban nightmare to real horror. Viewers who enjoy The Secret might also look to Argento's mother trilogy, or the recently released French horror film, Inside. That said. The Secret contains no gore and relies on psychological suspense rather than violence to construct its mother/daughter tale. --Trinie Dalton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: David Duchovny, Lili Taylor, Olivia Thirlby
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • DVD Release Date: August 12, 2008
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0019X3YTQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,498 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Secret" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
"The Secret" stars David Duchovny as Ben Marris, a successful ophtalmologist who is happily married to Hannah [Lili Taylor of The Haunting]who is a housewife. They have a rebellious 16-year-old daughter Sam [Olivia Thirlby]and from the beginning we can see the antagonism Sam feels towards her over-protective mother. Both mom and daughter head out on a weekend trip and an accident causes both to be critically wounded, eventually resulting in a bizarre occurence in which Hannah's spirit transfers over to Sam's body whilst Sam's spirit lingers somewhere in limbo-land.

The rest of the movie deals with how Ben comes to grips with this bizarre turn of events and how Hannah struggles to cope not only with having lost her material body, but having to try to 'find' her daughter's spirit within Sam's physical self, whislt at the same time traversing the tension-fraught life of a high school teen. Both Ben and "Hannah as Sam" also have trouble dealing with the weirdness of their situation as being deeply in love, they come to certain realisations about the impossible situation they are both in. Ben is torn between wanting to satisfy his and Hannah's emotional and sexual needs whilst not wanting to cross the boundaries presented by his own daughter's material body.

The leads do a credible job of portraying three individuals trapped in an intolerable situation, though it is Duchovny's Ben and Thirlby's Sam that carry the movie for the most part. Olivia Thirlby's performance as Samantha/Hannah is commendable as she portrays both mother and teen credibly. Viewers can really tell when she is playing either mother or daughter. Thirlby is definitely a young actor of promising talent based on this performance.
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6 Comments 43 of 46 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
Duchovny is one of my favorites and that main trailer had my customers asking lots of questions so I made sure to fit in this warped little title this weekend.

The story is laid out explicitly on the DVD case and in the trailer. Really all that was left to discover was how believable they made it and whether they cross any gross-out lines of keeping it "in the family". The performances were very adequate and make for a sustainable take on the body/spirit switch. The lead up to the event with their lovey-dovey marriage was over the top sap, but still fun. Through the course of the film, the young actress does a great job of fulfilling a split personality type roll, and I look forward to seeing more from her. By the end of the film you forget who is really there and who is not (in her mind).

SPOILER: I will get to the obvious question as numerous people have said they will not rent it if it goes down a certain path of consumation; It does not. But that does not mean you won't feel uncomfortable at times. For what this film is, I gave it a higher rating because of the believability without going X-Files-ish in how/why it happens, plus the acting was solid.

Quality of the DVD was fine, (did not get to the Blu this week) but it still showed a variety of failings with the camera grain; there were several takes of back/forth dialogue scenes that were obviously shot by different cameras where the grain detracted from the scene. The interviews and behind the scenes were nice additions for the release.
Comment 23 of 27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Blu-ray
The Secret is heartbreaking, emotional and beautiful. That is a near impossible balance to find in a film today. It may be a remake, but this is no slouch effort, and it stands alone. Normally I do not care for Duchovny at all, but he did a fine job here. The real credit, however, goes solely to Olivia Thirlby, who manages to portray two characters at once seamlessly. Freaky Friday may play body-switching for laughs, but The Secret gives you an idea of what really would transpire. I did not expect to like it as much as I did, and this is without a doubt a hidden gem.
Comment 14 of 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
I saw the 2007 French/American version of this film first without knowing it was a remake. I liked it, especially the performance by Olivia Thirlby, but when I discovered the 1999 Japanese version, Himitsu, which I liked even more, it highlighted for me a little of why I like Japanese films in particular, and East Asian films in general. It's a lot sweeter and more subtle. More sad too, casts a wider emotional net. As a matter of disclosure I'll point out that I am not a remake basher, on principle, at all.

The basic story centers on a seventeen year old girl whose body is inhabited by her mother's soul. The two of them were in a terrible accident, and while in the hospital, just as the mother is about to die she reaches over, all ceiling of the Sistine Chapel like, and transfers her soul into the body of her daughter. The daughter keeps her body but becomes her mother in personality and memories. When she goes to school and hangs out with her friends she doesn't really know what's going on, who the people are or what her homework assignments are, because ... well, she's her mother now, for all practical purposes. It takes her a while to come to terms with what's happened and even longer to convince her father/husband.

Now, to cut right to the chase in case you can't see the 400 pound gorilla in the room, once the father is convinced that his wife is living in the body of his daughter and they, well, ya know, they're all in love and stuff ... so what about sex?

Things get a little creepy but I give both films high marks for how delicately the sex question is handled. I'll leave it at that and say it's not the main theme of either film, just one of many issues that come up.

The English version is loud and antagonistic.
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