On Monday, I interviewed Elizabeth Muskala, the director of the Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children. If you haven’t read that yet, click here. (Don’t worry… we’ll wait!) Everybody good? Good! Moving on…
In the interview, Elizabeth recommended a movie from the Netherlands called The Secret Letter. I got a chance to watch her recommendation, and I’m here to share some thoughts on it.
The movie is a mystery-adventure about an 11-year-old girl named Eva and her two best friends, Jackie and Thomas. When Eva runs away from home for a night to put a scare into her constantly bickering parents, she ends up stumbling onto a secret letter that proves her neighbor is the leader of a crime syndicate. Now she and her friends have to figure out a way to stop the bad guys. Or else!
Here are a few observations about The Secret Letter:
1) It’s mysterious. You’re probably thinking, “Of course it’s mysterious, Craig — you already said it’s a mystery!” While that is a good point, what I mean is it’s actually mysterious. What do the numbers on the secret letter mean? Is Eva’s dad part of the crime syndicate? Who’s lying and who’s telling the truth?
2) It’s subtitled. As I mentioned above, the film is from the Netherlands, so all of the movie’s dialogue is in Dutch. That said, the English subtitles don’t take away from the movie at all. So much of good mystery movies (chase scenes, spying, etc.) is unspoken, and that’s the case here, too. Speaking of which…
3) It’s well-acted. When you think of the range of emotions the three main kid actors have to show in the face of adventure and danger, that’s pretty impressive. The actress who plays Eva (Hanna Obbeek) is particularly good at conveying both nervous fear and a steely will at the same time. Nice.
Overall, I liked this movie quite a bit. If you want to check it out, you should be able to find it on DVD before long (helpful tip: the Dutch title of the movie is Briefgeheim). However, a warning: there are a few scenes with guns and a couple that put the characters in immediate, real-world peril. If that’s not your thing, maybe it’s best not to seek this one out.
This brings us to the end of Movie Week™ on the blog, but a reminder: Sprockets is on until the end of the weekend, so if you’re in the Toronto area there’s still time to see some films. Click here to see the schedule.
Talk to you next week!