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“Strictly Confidential” Ends Well

Written by: Matt Patti | April 4th, 2024

Strictly Confidential (Damian Hurley, 2024) 3 out of 5 stars 

Can you truly trust anyone around you? Even those closest to us that we think we know well could possibly be hiding a monumental, unrevealed truth. How do you really know if someone is who you think they are?

It’s a scary train of thought … questioning who we can take at their word. But, it’s also a fascinating one. Even the most innocent of people might be hiding a dark secret. This terrifying reality is explored in director Damian Hurley’s Strictly Confidential.

Elizabeth Hurley in STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL ©MSR Media International

The film stars Elizabeth Hurley (The Piper), who happens to be the mother of director Damian Hurley. She plays Lily, a matriarch mourning her late daughter, Rebecca (Lauren McQueen, The Wasting). Lily lives with her other daughter, Rebecca’s sister Jemma (Genevieve Gaunt, The Mercy) and they now inhabit a large mansion alone together, grief-stricken over reports of Rebecca’s suicide.

Lily and Jemma invite Rebecca’s best friend, Mia (Georgia Lock, Me, Myself and Di), and her other friends over to their mansion for summer vacation, a tradition from when Rebecca was alive. However, what should be a time of healing and fond reflection quickly turns to chaos, as Mia seems to be the only one of the group not hiding a skeleton in the closet. Mia quickly catches on to the events happening around her and begins to wonder if Rebecca’s death was a suicide after all, or if something more sinister might have happened.

l-r: Lauren McQueen and Georgia Lock in STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL ©MSR Media International

Strictly Confidential introduces a plethora of characters very quickly off the bat, which can be a bit jarring and cause the viewer some confusion as to who’s who. However, by the end of the film, we are very familiar with each of them and the role they play. At face value, Rebecca’s friends and family seem like average everyday folks, but to many of them there is more than meets the eye.

The layered, compelling characters are one of the film’s greatest strengths. Rebecca, her family, and her friends all play a specific part in the story, and each one of them holds surprises. The performances are mostly quality, although some get off to a rough start. Lock is the standout, turning in an emotional, convincing performance as a best friend in shambles over her friend’s death who tries to prove Rebecca did not commit suicide.

Lauren McQueen in STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL ©MSR Media International

Strictly Confidential does fall victim to very on-the-nose dialogue and lazy writing, especially in the first and second acts. Far too much telling takes place instead of showing, specifically early on, with lengthy exposition dumps and very unoriginal ways of conveying information. Furthermore, many characters find out information in the easiest, most convenient ways that do not feel earned and are far too coincidental.

Still, the intriguing mystery of what happened to Rebecca and the secrets each character harbors still hold the viewer’s investment, even through some rough patches. The film follows a very brisk pace, assuring the audience is never bored. It also never gives them a moment to dwell on things, which might actually be to the film’s benefit throughout the first two acts.

Georgia Lock in STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL ©MSR Media International

Thankfully, the third act seals the deal. Far better than acts one and two, the intense finale makes the viewer forget about some of the bad dialogue and writing. Highlighted by a phenomenal major twist and an intriguing, satisfying conclusion, the third act is by far the best aspect of the film and ends things on a high note.

The movie’s conclusion makes up for most of the worst aspects of earlier. There’s something to be said for a film that can overcome a myriad of issues to still yield positive results. Although the audience’s trust in the filmmakers wavers for much of the runtime, in the end we are absorbed into the twisty plot and compelling characters. Although our trust in the story may be saved, viewers may certainly begin to ponder if they can trust those closest to them after a viewing of Strictly Confidential.

Elizabeth Hurley in STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL ©MSR Media International

Matt Patti has enjoyed voicing his opinions on films from a young age. He has lived in the Baltimore, Maryland, area since 2015 and is a graduate of Stevenson University’s Film & Moving Image program. Matt is currently back at Stevenson University, working as the School of Design, Arts, and Communication's Studio Manager.

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