Directed by: #JamalHill
Celess (Reyna Love) and Tina (Erica Pinkett) play the game too well to be considered your average gold diggers. And they're winning too. But when the jaw-dropping secret they both share is exposed, the same shovel that got them out of the dirt could very well bury them.
We’ve seen gold diggers, but we haven’t seen them like this. Celess and Tina are trans women who have been stepped on ever since they were kids, but the time has come to take something back from everything that was stripped away from them. Secret Society, the energetic drama from Jamal Hill based on the novel of the same name by Miasha Coleman, spins comedy and thriller into a crazy, boozey piece that explores the highs and lows of playing the game.
In an “eat or be eaten” world, the two women discover who they are inside themselves and beside each other, through creating a way of life that works for them. Though Secret Society boasts an exciting story with potential for great use of serious themes, its clunky structure and presentation displays cracks and becomes a bit of a bore. The performances from Love and Pinkett are great and show a decent amount of depth, but the way scenes are captured and edited create some form of disconnect. With choppy music cut-ins and quick scene changes, it’s unfortunately giving the impression of a rushed job that could do with some polishing.
Celess and Tina are interesting enough characters, and the direction the story dips and weaves in shows potential; it reminds me of Hustlers in its smokey look and visual palette, but not quite as engrossing. The focus shifts from past to present as we see the women’s history with their parents who refuse to accept their transition, and the affects of that in their life decisions. Admirably, the two stick together throughout it all and that bond we’re shown is one of the more rewarding parts of the film. Beyond the two leads, there’s not much else on offer. Jetting from city to city, country to country, the story jumps around a lot but in a way that doesn’t allow for a chance to settle. Side characters are sparsely intriguing; though some of them prove vital to the story, one in particular who stirs up some problems as the film comes up on its dizzying climax.
Secret Society floods viewers with a not-so seamless string of events that continuously pile up and as Celess and Tina navigate through them, they’re confronted with situations far out of their control. As they lose their grip on the game they rolled the dice on, they tighten the grip on each other. If only the direction and execution of Secret Society had that same grip.
Watch the trailer for Secret Society below.