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While the new releases are still a little limited at the cinema ESP’s film reviewer Gavin Miller brings you is take on the home rental choices worth a watch from your sofa…

This can only be judged as a romantic-drama in its own right – despite apparently being inferior to the source material according to hardcore fans.

But as a standalone night in, this pretty much unlocks all the right genre boxes.

Based on Rhonda Byrne’s best-selling book, the New Orleans-set Dare to Dream focuses on Katie Holmes’ (Batman Begins) Miranda, a young widow trying to make ‘ends meet’ while raising three children and having a ‘friend with benefits’ dating arrangement with local businessman Tucker (Jerry Maguire’s Jerry O’Connell).

When a devastating storm across the Louisiana coast wreaks havoc – bringing a tree crashing through the roof of Miranda’s house – it also brings a mysterious stranger into her life, almost appearing from out of nowhere across the bayou.

Said mystery guy is Josh Lucas – who actually rose to prominence in 2002’s Reese Witherspoon-led rom-com Sweet Home Alabama – as spiritual handyman Bray.

His positive thinking brings a new attitude to Miranda and her kids’ lives, even if he ruffles a few feathers along the way – including Tucker (who goes on to propose) and Miranda’s meddling mother-in-law Bobby (Dead Man Walking’s Celia Weston) – due to his seemingly selfless nature, and willingness to offer help with no reward, despite appearing from out of the blue.

Or has he? Sadly that can’t be revealed here as it would spoil the entire plot, but Bray has in fact come on a planned visit for a life-changing purpose – which is ‘the secret’ eluded too in the title.

Unfortunately after a heartwarming opening hour or so, it’s actually the reveal of this secret, that helplessly forces the movie into a generic ‘seen it all before’ ending.

But by then the ‘romantics’ out there may have already been drawn in by the chemistry between Holmes and Lucas – which holds the key to the film’s appeal – and due to that this does more far more right than it does wrong, with its completely inoffensive grounding.

Which leaves The Secret daring to dream of becoming one of the best rom-drams of the year – which it actually achieves quite easily with minimal competition in 2020.

It’s a little sickly sweet at times – but kind of succeeds on the back of that.

ESP Rating: 3.5/5

Gavin Miller

Cast: Katie Holmes, Josh Lucas, Jerry O’connell, Sarah Hoffmeister, Aidan Pierce Brennan, Chloe Lee, Katrina Begin & Celia Weston

Running Time: 1 Hr 47 Mins

Director: Andy Tennant


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