Update #4, Every Secret Thing's Extra Secret Upgrade

Every Secret Thing has finally arrived on DVD. After having one of those experimental deals where it was available for streaming at the same time it played in theaters, Amy Berg's film adaptation of the award winning novel by Laura Lippman has now hit the home video market via Anchor Bay's brand new DVD. And blu-ray, of course, right? Nope, just DVD. Hmm. Well alright, let's put a pin in that and focus on what we've actually got here.

Update 8/10/15 - 8/20/19: Here's one I bet you guys weren't expecting to see return for Update Week! It was a real bummer when this movie turned out to be DVD only, but in 2018, one country heard us... Italy! Can't say I expected that either, but let's not question a good thing. Every Secret Thing is in HD and it's... English friendly enough.  I'll explain.
This film appeared on my radar early, when one of my favorite filmmakers - Nicole Holofcener (Lovely and Amazing, Enough Said) - mentioned in an interview that one of her upcoming projects was going to be something different, an adaptation of this dark crime novel. First time producer but long time, Oscar winning actress Frances McDormand had acquired the rights, and wanted Holofcener after Nicole had directed her in Friends With Money. Holofcener didn't wind up directing the film - that went to documentary filmmaker Amy Berg, who'd made a film I was very impressed with: Deliver Us From Evil, and one I was disappointed by: West Of Memphis. She's done a couple other documentary films, too, but they all seem to be in various states of unavailability (...at least as of 2015. In 2016, her documentary Janis: Little Girl Blue has been probably her biggest success yet, and is readily available all over). So, anyway, that was a pretty interesting choice, Holofcener still had full screenplay credit, and I was interested in what McDormand would choose to produce, so I've been eagerly awaiting this one.
And I'm not at all disappointed. It's technically a mystery, and it will genuinely have you guessing right up until the last minute as surprising but very fitting things are revealed. But it's more of a quiet drama that just happens to circle around a few characters who were involved in a crime. We find our two leads, Dakota Fanning and Danielle Macdonald, who's particularly good, as two young women who've just returned home after being released from juvenile for a crime they committed against a baby when they were young children. Yeah, this film's pretty heavy. Anyway, their new lives seem to be dysfunctional enough - and they've grown completely distant from each other - before it turns out a very similar crime has just happened again, and naturally they're the two biggest suspects. Diane Lane hits it out of the park as Macdonald's mother, and rapper Common, formerly Common Sense, is surprisingly effective, too, as the baby's father. Some impressive child actors, too. Only Elizabeth Banks, as one of the two police detectives on the case, feels awkward and miscast. She actually gives a pretty respectable performance, but she just doesn't fit into the otherwise very natural, real environment, but rather like a very television CSI/ NCIS/ SVU idea of a cop. Everything else, however, is natural, touching, smartly written and completely pulls you in.
So, I was pretty surprised to see this not get the standard DVD and blu-ray double release. When I first saw it was DVD only in the US, my first thought was to hit up the foreign Amazon sites and see what was coming from Artificial Eye or Studio Canal or anybody, but... nothing (at the time). I guess it has to do with the early streaming release, DVD labels figure it devalued the film's home video rights, which I can see. A lot of people might've just bought it on ITunes rather than waiting for a DVD or blu that hadn't even been announced as coming yet. And Anchor Bay's sole DVD is pretty featureless and selling for only $7.88, brand new, on Amazon. The whole thing's just weird.  In 2018, though, one of those foreign Amazons finally paid off.  Specifically, Amazon.it, as it's now on blu over there from Koch Media!
2015 US Anchor Bay DVD top; 2018 IT Koch BD bottom.
Just having a DVD was disappointing. The slightly letterboxed 1.85:1 (more like 1.83, really) transfer is fine, of course. As a brand new film, I'm sure the filmmakers just handed AB a finished digital transfer ready to be slapped onto a disc. But not having a blu-ray option is a real bummer, especially considering its already been available online in HD all this time. Like I wrote about That Guy Dick Miller, casual viewers who just catch this streaming on Netflix or where ever get to see it in full quality, but serious fans who pay for the collector's edition are left to watch this all compressed? Boo.

So thank goodness for the Italians.  The slightly off aspect ratio is corrected to a proper 1.85:1.  The framing hasn't changed; turns out the DVD was slightly squished.  So that's fixed.  Otherwise, of course, it's the same master, but this is now a true HD image with an obvious boost in clarity.  The DVD had a frustrating softness and unfortunate artifacting, which is nicely smartened up on this 1080p dual-layered BD.

Both discs feature the original 5.1 English audio, which is now in lossless DTS-HD on the blu.  The blu-ray also features a 5.1 Italian dub and optional (removable) Italian subs, which the DVD naturally eschewed.  The DVD did have optional English (and Spanish) subtitles, though, which we lose.  But as long as you're not hearing impaired, the Italian BD is English friendly enough.
The only area we didn't see a gain in is the special features, and the DVD's already pretty dry. It comes in a nice slip cover and even has an insert, which is admittedly just advertising the book, but at least it hides the cut out of the "eco friendly" case with relevant artwork. But beyond that and a couple "bonus" trailers that autoplay on start, there's actually one very worthwhile extra. A seven+ minute collection of deleted scenes. These are actually pretty great, two or three in particular really add a dark but resonating shade to the lead character, and it's a real shame they were cut from the film. For pacing? The film actually flows very breezily and could definitely have stood to take on a couple extra minute of footage as good as this. I won't give the details away, though I suspect fans of the novel are already familiar with them and were missing them on screen... fans of this film should definitely seek these scenes out.
That's it, though. Not even the film's actual trailer. The "Deleted Scenes" option looks very lonely and isolated sitting alone in a vast emptiness of negative space of the "Special Features" sub-menu. I suspect whoever designed the menus anticipated a lot more things going into that space when he submitted it to his employers. Yeah. It's alright, guy, we all did.

And Koch?  Well, we finally got that trailer, though it's only got the Italian audio.  And the deleted scenes?  Gone.  We've actually regressed in this department, the one real disappointing aspect of this blu.
At the end of the day, the blu is really the only way to go.  And the ideal situation is to cop both.  I know it seems crazy to buy a second disc just for seven minutes worth of extra content, but considering just how cheap the DVD is (as of this writing, it's down to $2 something used on Amazon), it's not much of a hit to take.  Then you can just take the DVD out and slip it in the blu-ray case alongside the BD.  Because I'll be very surprised if we ever get anymore of a proper special edition than this.  But hey, start with the blu and see how compelled you are to add on.  It's a good little film, though.

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