23 March 2012

Danielle Steel's 'Secrets' (starring Christopher Plummer, Linda Purl and Gary Collins)

Danielle Steel is a very popular novelist, although I was not particularly impressed with either of the books I have read by her, so far. I don't suppose it would ever have occurred to me to get hold of a DVD of an adaptation of one of her books, but we were given this - a freebie from a weekend newspaper in the UK - by a relative. It has sat on our shelves for quite some time, but last night we finally sat down to watch it.

'Secrets' is set in Hollywood, and is the story of a group of people who get together to make the pilot series of a new TV show called 'Manhattan'. The director, and really the star of the whole film, is called Mel - nicely played by Christopher Plummer in a role that seemed to suit him well.

The cast he gets together are a somewhat caricatured and unlikely mix. There's Sabina (Stephanie Beacham) who really doesn't like TV, but very much likes Mel, and yet keeps popping off to San Francisco for some purpose which is not revealed until the end. There's Jane (Linda Purl) who is in a horribly abusive marriage. There's Zack (Gary Collins), a likeable guy who becomes quite protective of Jane, yet evidently has a worrying secret of his own. There's Gaby, apparently a diva, who turns out to be rather wealthy, and Bill (Ben Browder) whose wife is a druggie.

Somehow all these confused and hurting people manage to create a show that is a terrific hit, and the movie shows the filming interspersed with scenes from their increasingly unpleasant private lives. The movie was well done in a 1990s kind of way (I had thought it earlier) but the story itself is artificial, with exaggerated traits in all the cast, and a tidy, predictable outcome. There seems to be rather a lot of bedroom scenes; they're fairly subtly done with no nudity as such, but by the end had become somewhat tediously repetitive.

It wasn't a bad film, if a bit depressing in places; I thought Christopher Plummer held it all together very well, and the ending was at least positive, if unlikely. But the story felt too plastic to be interesting; perhaps it somewhat reflects life in Hollywood, but the characters did not seem believable in the ways they behaved. I was not at all inspired to get hold of the book.

Oh, and there was a very odd start and end to the film, featuring Danielle Steel herself thanking the viewers for watching - I expect she's a very nice person, but these parts were cringeworthy, and very offputting. Perhaps they were put on the DVD for the freebie version.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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