Projections - Movie Reviews

Secret Society

Imogen Kimmel's Secret Society is empowered oddly through sumo wrestling in this decent feminist counterpart to British comedies like The Full Monty and Everybody Famous.

There are some interesting ideas in place here as Kimmel works with writing partner Catriona McGowan to bring more sympathy to Great Britain's working class.  While sumo wrestling lacks the appeal of male stripping, Secret Society quietly locates its emotional center as the anachronistic film is buoyed by Charlotte Britain, applauded by those who appreciated the little seen coming-of-age British film, Get Real.

Here, Britain is the youthful, just married Daisy, who is not really that fat, but overweight enough to be ridiculed by some of Dorchester's denizens.  Her appearance isn't a concern of husband Ken (Lee Ross).  The narrative course rests on Ken being let go from work and making the reticent Daisy uneasy with his unusual financial scheme of her being photographed nude for postcards.

That leads Daisy to a ho-hum position in a cannery where she handles peas.  But things turn for her when she finds out what her boss Marlene, assuredly played by Annette Badland, does to accommodate oversized women after working hours.  Lo and behold, she heads up a female sumo wrestling group, with members having names like Giant Butterfly and Raging Bull.

Secret Society benefits from how Britain embodies her new lifestyle and how it makes it feel about herself.  The story mostly covers routine territory when dealing the effects of openness on relationships and the surreptitious nature to preserve them.  Some of the comedic nature is built up from Ross' gradual paranoid portrayal of Ken as he watches Daisy practice in the verdant countryside.

Even if the comedy falls well short of The Full Monty in drawing off the quirky, central conceit, the film's peculiarities don't detract from what Kimmel gets from her characters.  What's interesting is that the tone remains bright, if exotic as felt by the romantically intoned soundtrack.  And the relationship of Daisy and Ken isn't falsely rigged to manufacture something that isn't already there.  Ross is amusing even though Ken really drives confidently to bookend Secret Society.  His ravings somehow coalesce with a frustrated, but quietly determined Daisy as Britain doesn't have to be a lean, mean fighting machine to make one find enough tenderness in this comedy over saturated about fat.

Secret Society

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