Based on a book of the same name, Secret Child dives into the true story of single mothers and their children in Dublin during the 1950s. We are introduced to Gordon (played by Austin Taylor), a young boy who lives in a secretive Catholic hostel with his mother, waiting for the moment he’ll meet his father.
This film had a sad air about it, but the second half of the story didn’t leave me feeling low and without hope for the people involved. Instead, I felt knowing that no matter how low they felt in society, there was always a light at the end of the tunnel. The colour palette for this film transported us back in time, with creams and sage greens, linking this with the shadows and darkness of the hostel, we could see just how these people felt by the places they were. Gordon, the young child in the film, appeared just as any boy in tales of the past does. His jumper was dirty, he fought with his friends, he didn’t want to get into trouble even though he always did. He was mostly happy but knew the situation him and his mother were in was not fantastic.
Now onto his parents. Fiona Glascott, who played the mother, really did a lovely job in summing up the feelings of a single parent during the time it was set. It must’ve been so scary and lonely, but she also had hope about her. Even if she was worried about possible futures that her and her son may have together, that’s the thing that always kept her going, her son. I loved that we could see worry and confusion in her facial expressions, really helping us see her story even within a short time frame. Aaron McCusker plays the father, who is painted to us as a possible bad guy, even though he has written letters of love and is treating the family to tea. I think after seeing him in Bohemian Rhapsody, as the role of Jim Hutton, he came across as someone simple, yet still not everything on display. I felt the same with this character, that he was a good man, but there is always the underlying fear that someone won’t be who they say they are.
Directed by Yew Weng Ho, you can see how a sad story wanted to be told, but with patience and positivity, we see this beautiful film. I think it’s so interesting to see things on my screen based on true events, so it’s lovely that someone’s book has been able to be brought to life in a sweet yet truthful way. For me, to see that the author helped write the film, really does make me know how careful this story was dealt with, leaving me with more joy for the story and respect for the truth behind it than just the film itself.
I think the most important thing I’ve taken from this film is the fact that Gordon will always be loved. Whether it’s his mother telling him directly, or the way he is treated by the people who care for him, just because of his current home, it doesn’t mean that he deserves less than anyone else. We shouldn’t worry about where we are on our journeys, even if the road ahead still doesn’t seem quite right, as long as we remember that people are there for us and will always love us.