Best Kept Secret

I’d like to think I can keep a secret. Unless it is any form of gossip. If I hear about gossip, I will most definitely pass it on to somebody. Everyone knows that if you tell something to a married person, their spouse gets auto-dibs on the secret anyways.

Best Kept Secret is a documentary not even about a real secret. So I guess I can talk to you all about it and not feel like a dick for betraying its trust.

Best Kept Secret is actually about a teacher, in Newark, New Jersey, who just wants to do what is best for her kids and help them get jobs after they graduate high school. It is hard for her, even though her class is only four guys and she has over a year left to do it, because the kids are all very autistic.

And you will get to meet each and every one of the kids and their families and their struggles. They aren’t on even playing field of course. One guy can talk a lot more than the rest, some can barely say a thing, but damn it, they are working on it.

The hardest part about all of this is making sure they have a job after they finish high school. Most of them want to work (and honestly, apparently they all want to work at Burger King). They want to keep learning and get better at communication. They don’t want to live at home or in a home for the rest of their lives where they live only to exist and never do anything great.

Normally a joke statement, the struggle is actually real here.

So yes, the stakes are indeed very high for these individuals. But the issue this documentary brings up is that the tend to lack support and it can be frustrating. For the case of this teacher, she probably works 100 hours a week, planning, teaching, and coming up with leads for these kids to make their lives better. She is awesome for that fact.

But what this documentary does NOT talk about is overall increasing funding for people with special needs to increase their quality of life. It doesn’t ask for any sort of law reform to stop budget cuts anywhere. It does none of these things. It just showcases the reality of the situation in one of the poorest areas of the country with a higher than average number of special needs children.

And frankly, I think that did a disservice to the situation. Maybe I have been watching too many grand scale documentaries lately, but the small focus of this documentary just didn’t feel right. I got a personal look onto the lives of five people, and that was it. It feels like the documentary should be part of a series, going into different people’s lives, instead of a standalone feature. At the end of this one I am left wondering, “Well, yeah, now what?” It doesn’t really make any claims at all, so it just feels a bit pointless. Sure, there are some interesting things in here. But usually documentaries just do something more for their given topic.

Also, the ending felt like a kick in the nuts. The part where they update you on where everyone is now after all the filming. That part sucked a lot. Reality blows.

2 out of 4.

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