'Dirty Little Secret' Review: Melissa Joan Hart shines in a gripping mental health drama
A secret remains a secret until someone swears never to expose it. We all have secrets, and we often take them to our graves. However, we occasionally worry that secrets may be revealed, leading to serious embarrassment. The Lifetime movie 'Dirty Little Secret' follows seventeen-year-old Lucy (Lizzie Boys), who has been severely isolated from her friends for years, reluctant to let anybody near her house in order to hide her family secret.
So, what exactly are the secrets Lucy wants hidden from the rest of the world, and why does she never want her friends over? Lucy's mother, Joanna (Melissa Joan Hart), has a hoarding condition. An outwardly successful nurse, Joanna maintains the dysfunction in their house with an obsessive grip, but after a tragedy, Lucy must decide whether to keep her mother's secret hidden or expose it to the public.
When Lucy was little, her house was not a cluttered mess. In fact, it was kinda perfect - a clean, normal house. However, Joanna had OCD, and she used to keep everything in perfect order and clean, which irritated everyone. Once Lucy's father left them, the nature of Joanna's OCD reversed to the polar opposite, and the house that was clean before quickly turned into a hot mess.
The movie presents a lovely mother-daughter bond. Even though Lucy knew her mother was wrong the entire time she tried to help her, it appears Joanna did not want any help. The film ends on a surprising note, as Joanna dies in the clutter she has been attempting to retain as her treasures throughout the decade. Another unexpected twist comes when Lucy discovers her mother had died in that mess, and she does what her mother taught her all along the way, which is to keep secrets under the rug. When Lucy can't clean the house, she just cleans up the whole thing by setting it on fire - with her dead mother inside. That's shocking, isn't it?
Speaking of the narrative, the writing does try hard to make it fascinating and hook you to the screen, but there are a few instances that seem repetitive. However, the movie doesn't let the tedium set in and spices it up quickly. Despite a sluggish start, it quickly picks up pace.
Melissa Joan Hart wonderfully portrays a mentally-ill mother who believes she is only doing the right thing. Lizzie Boys supports her aptly with a terrific performance. The film conveys the message: everyone has secrets, and sometimes the only way to keep a secret safe is to let it go.