tek's rating: ½

Little Secrets (PG)
IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; Samuel Goldwyn Films; Sony Pictures; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; iTunes; Vudu; YouTube

This is from 2001, but I didn't see it until 2018. And I guess the only reason I even know the movie exists is because I got it on a double feature DVD with My Stepmother Is an Alien. But I'm really glad to have seen it, because it's so much better than I could have expected... and yes, better than the movie that was the reason I bought the DVD, even if I still find that other movie more memorable. (Nostalgia is a double-edged sword.)

So, there's a 14-year-old girl named Emily Lindstrom (Evan Rachel Wood), who normally goes to camp with her friends for the summer. But this summer, she's staying home to take violin lessons from a teacher named Pauline (Vivica A. Fox), in preparation for an audition to get into a youth orchestra. But she still keeps in touch with her friends while they're away at camp, by sending each other videos of themselves in the mail. (Like, I'm used to the culture shock of watching movies that are old enough not to have cell phones or internet, but characters not having Skype? That really shouldn't make me feel as old as it does.) Anyway, violin isn't the only thing Emily does with her time. She also has her own little business as a "secret keeper," where kids from her neighborhood come to share their secrets with her, and get advice from her. She's very good at keeping secrets... particularly since she has a big one about herself that only she and her parents know. Meanwhile, a new family moves in next door. Emily actually meets their 15-year-old son, David, at the mall, before learning that he's her new neighbor. (He's played by David Gallagher, vaguely familiar to me from "7th Heaven," since my sister used to watch it.) At first it seemed like an obvious plot set-up for the two of them to start dating, or whatever, but that surprisingly doesn't become a major plot point. In fact, David goes away to tennis camp, so it will be quite awhile before they learn that they're neighbors. But Emily becomes close to David's family right away, particularly his 12-year-old brother, Philip. (He develops a crush on her, but that's not a major plot point, either; mostly their friendship is just, you know, a friendship.)

Well, there are various things going on in the movie. Emily's parents are expecting a baby, and she feels like the baby will be more important to them than she is. (This ties into her secret.) And David eventually returns home from camp early, for a reason I won't spoil... but in a way, that ties into something that happened to Emily a long time ago. And... eventually something happens to her in the present, which I also don't want to spoil... but it could force her to miss her audition.

I feel like I'm forgetting lots of stuff, but it's probably not really important. I'll just say that I found the movie very charming, in large part because Emily was so charming. And... I guess I thought all the various plot points just meshed really well. In ways that I can't explain without spoiling everything.

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