Everyone Has Those Little Secrets
by Diana Vaccarelli
My favorite genre to watch on television is suspense. Secrets and Lies follow the aftermath of the murder of a young boy name Tom Murphy. The show is told through the eyes of Ben Crawford, played by Ryan Phillippe, whose world is turned upside down as he is the prime suspect but claims his innocence.
Phillippe portrays Ben Crawford as a sensitive nice guy always looking to do the right thing even when the right thing gets him in trouble. He establishes a poise and grace even though you can see the frustration on his face. Phillippe manages to change his mood when his family is in the room, mainly his youngest daughter Abby. He does everything he can to assure them that everything is going to be okay.
When he is alone you can see the anger building and tension and then he flips the switch. This is where he shines in the role. He makes that seem so easy, which we know is not as an actor. It is a rare gift.
Juliette Lewis plays hard-nosed Detective Andrea Cornell. The problem with her is that she never seems to create a character. Cornell never displays the slightest bit of emotion, with the result that we never know what she’s thinking. Even when she’s alone and we should.
Ms. Lewis’ performance makes it difficult to judge the writing. Do we blame the actor for being so opaque? Or was she following the dictates of the script? I tend to think it’s the acting that’s at fault because the characters show so many more facets. I’m not just talking about Phillipe here, but also the character of Abby. As played by Bella Shouse, she truly shines, demonstrating a child’s sense of hope and trust in spite of a tragic event that could send any adult tumbling into a pit of despair.
Plotwise, the rest of the writing provides many fascinating and perceptive moments, especially the ones revealing how the media can twist facts, manipulating emotions and ruining reputations and…lives. These never-ending twists and turns have brought me back as a viewer week after week.
All in all, I recommend SECRETS AND LIES – as long as you watch with a careful and forgiving eye.