No masterpiece but not bad. The piece promises more than it delivers, the denouement leaves one wishing for more substance.
At the start,troubled Jason Darcie(ex-soap hunk Dylan Neal)tries to commit suicide. It has to do with family secrets revolving around the mysterious death of Jason's sister, long time ago.He is interned seeking treatment, and his concerned wife Lara(Nichole Tom)goes back to his home town looking for financial help and perhaps some answers to Jason's emotional trauma.Jason's dad Paul(Peter McNeill) is senile and in a home,his brother Grady(Philip Riccio)is timid and disturbed,and doesn't offer much, but in her research around town Lara gets closer to Grady and the awful events in the Darcie subconscious.
It's no secret to us from the start that Grady suffers from dissociative identity disorder(DDI),aka multiple personality disorder.Shortly after Lara meets him, the audience, not Lara, is gradually introduced to his 5 or 6 personalities, ranging from murderous hood,assertive regular Joe, passive introvert, to innocent black girl. One recourse is to show them in his mind's eye,by showing actor Riccio convincingly talking to himself in different voices, then cutting to the different personalities together over a white background.Another way is by having the actor show a personality transformation within the scene, as when a hostile personality comes to timid Grady's defense and violently pushes away a very surprised offender, Jake(Chris Cogllis). Philip Riccio as Grady, whose looks and acting style reminds one of actor Edward Norton, pulls it off beautifully.
Nichole Tom as Lara is good in her role as the involved and worried wife,and Dylan Neal appealing as her troubled husband. The supporting cast is interesting and suitable, but the multiple personality role is an opportunity that actor Riccio uses well to outshine all others.His is a detailed and impressive performance, his mood changes are compelling.
Expectations are sky high when the theme of multiple personality(DDI) is involved in a film, and this script treatment falls short of expectations.This is certainly not "Sybil",a classic TV film about DDI as manifested in Sybil,brilliantly played by Sally Field with no less than Joanne Woodward playing her psychiatrist. Joanne won an Oscar in the fifies playing a DDI victim in "Three Faces of Eve", a pioneering film study on the disease which garnered lots of attention. "My Family's Secret" is just a thriller,not focusing on the disorder but on the mystery secret and using a character with DDI to add more interest to the story.Even so,as thrillers go this is not that well crafted or exciting, and the secret not that surprising.No fault of the actors, though.
This no Sybil, it wasn't meant to be, but as a thriller it's no Hitchcock either.
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