Secret Life is a 2007 British television movie, which aired on Channel 4. The movie follows the plight of Charlie (Matthew Macfadyen), who is a supposedly reformed child molester. If you’re unfamiliar with Macfadyen, you may mistake the film’s beginning for some type of documentary television series. The acting is immaculate and the scenes feel genuine and authentic. When the movie opens, we see Charlie speaking to a group of prisoners. He speaks about his lengthy prison stay and his upcoming release. We also learn about Charlie’s sexual abuse, at the hands of his own father.
The next day, Charlie collects his belongings and is escorted out of the prison. He immediately faces difficulty attempting to acclimate back into society. After boarding a bus, Charlie rushes in the other direction upon seeing a few young girls. Eventually, he makes his way to his new residence, a half-way house. After getting settled in, he meets with his therapist, Emma (Holly Aird). Despite her intention to help, Emma is fairly incompetent.
When Charlie returns home, he finds a new comrade, Rudi (Philip Davis). Rudi is also a pedophile, yet seems to have recovered or manages to control his tendencies. Initially, Charlie’s desires remain idle, but his mind begins to wonder and he finds himself in some very dangerous situations. When visiting a local store, Charlie catches two young girls, Kelly (Shahnequa Duprey) and Michaela (Yasmin Paige), shoplifting. He stares at the girls intently, but manages to hold off his urges.
Of course, the situation worsens, when Charlie is chased down the street, by a group of locals and the half-way house is picketed. This forces Charlie out of his comfort zone. He discovers a new place to live and manages to secure a decent job, but his obsessions become overwhelming. Without giving too much away, we’ll stop there. So, how is Secret Life? The television movie is thoroughly enthralling, yet incredibly bleak.
Macfadyen’s performance is eerily realistic. Despite Charlie being a creepy pedophile, it is hard not to sympathize with the character. We can see that Charlie desires for betterment, but he and nobody else knows how to obtain it. The movie gives an insightful look into the struggles faced by pedophiles, as well as other criminals, who first leave prison. The translation from a controlled life to one, without boundaries, is undoubtedly frightening and nearly impossible.
How would you deal with such an intense urge, which you knew was so profane? What should society do with these individuals? Charlie found a solution to his problem, since nobody else could. The movie is definitely thought provoking and will stick with you for a lengthy period of time. If you’re not a fan of bleak movies, Secret Life isn’t for you. However, if you’re willing to explore the struggle and mentality of a pedophile, Secret Life is a must.
All in all, the movie is immaculate, as is Macfadyen’s performance. Despite being several years old, the movie is still well worth checking out. A 9 out of 10 is well deserved.