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Secret Smile
cast: Kate Ashfield, David Tennant, Claire Goose, Robert Lowe, and James Daffren

director: Christopher Menaul

137 minutes (15) 2008
ITV DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by James A. Stewart
Based on the Sean French novel of the same name, Secret Smile is British TV production released on DVD almost five years after it was made and shown on TV for the first time. It stars tenth 'Doctor Who', David Tennant as the sadistic Brendan Block, which is a wonderful name in its own right, and Tennant is pretty much the star of the show.

The original screening of Secret Smile was over two episodes but it stands up as a watch through piece of cinema, just. It is just a touch long and the expose of Block's twisted plans is overdone at times, as sure a sign that quality always rules over quantity as any. The premise is that Block dates Miranda (Kate Ashfield, Shaun Of The Dead) and her unease leads to her dumping him. As revenge he dates Miranda's sister before dumping her and dating Laura (Sussanah Wise), Miranda's best friend. The plot darkens from here as Block murders Laura, but dresses it up as tragic accident in the bath.

By now Miranda is on tilt and no-one believes her protestations about Block, whose evil and cunning plan culminates in his premeditated rape of Miranda; a rape that for her own plans she is almost happy to go through with. Secret Smile has the cat-and-mouse feel of a TV thriller. Tennant is excellent throughout and despite this being the type of role you wouldn't normally associate with him, his performance does reinforce how strong his flexibility and presence are.

The direction is clear and allows the plot to flow. However, the main gripe with Secret Smile tends to sit with the plot. It is at best farfetched throughout and it is almost inconceivable that Miranda's family would not heed her warnings on Block. Their almost blasé attitude to her concerns just didn't fit. The ending itself had more holes than a block of Swiss cheese; it was clever but not really plausible. Tennant aside, the acting is quite effective if not stellar. There were plenty of familiar faces from British TV, such as Claire Goose (Casualty, Waking The Dead) in more prominent roles, as well as those making up the supporting cast.

Secret Smile is a sound thriller which moves at a pace slower than optimum, has some decent acting and despite the inconsistencies in some elements of the plot, will tend to hold the attention of the viewer throughout as we ask ourselves the question which Secret Smile builds toward: how will Miranda get back at Block?
NEXT

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