Timely ‘The Secret: Dare To Dream’ Finds The Meaning In Hardship

Katie Holmes and Josh Lucas star in The Secret: Dare to Dream, an uplifting new drama based on the wildly popular 2006 book. Adapted by This Is Us staff writer Bekah Brunstetter, the film shares the same values, ideals and themes of the NBC series: that our lives are somehow mysteriously linked, and our joy is a direct result of those connections.

Initially slated for an April release but delayed, like so many things, by the coronavirus pandemic, director Andy Tennant’s film promotes a hopeful message at a time when hope is desperately needed. With a widely diverse filmography ranging from It Takes Two to Sweet Home Alabama to the Netflix series The Kominsky Method, Tennant’s movie is saved from its Hallmark-ian moments by its dynamic lead actor, Katie Holmes.

Katie Holmes, Aiden Pierce Brennan, Sarah Hoffmeister and Chloe Lee in “The Secret: Dare to Dream.” Photos courtesy of Lionsgate.

Holmes plays Miranda Wells, a broke widow whose home is partially destroyed by a fateful hurricane. An even more fateful occurrence is the arrival of Bray Johnson (Josh Lucas), a mysterious college professor who helps fix her car, repair her roof – and helps her broken family adjust its perspective on the hardships in their lives.

The story of two supposed strangers unfolds calmly from there, with supporting roles from Celia Weston and Jerry O’Connell as colorful side characters in Miranda’s story. Holmes is, as always, incredibly real in a story based on how harsh realities can clash with fate, belief and perspective. It undoubtedly calls to mind her underrated coming-of-age portrayal of Joey Potter, a girl with big dreams from a small Massachusetts town, who in more than 100 episodes of Dawson’s Creek was beaten down by life – not unlike her character in this film.

Miranda and Bray have different approaches to “coincidence” – she doesn’t quite believe things happen for a reason, while he is determined to prove that good thoughts attract good events, a central theme of Rhonda Byrne’s book. I wonder what they’d say about the odds of the film being released amid such turmoil in the U.S. and around the globe, as people face job loss and the far more daily devastating human loss as a result of the deadly contagious virus affecting every life in some way. 

As Miranda realizes she and Bray are more connected than she thought, viewers of The Secret: Dare To Dream might be able to look at their own lives at this time and realize just how much it is impacted by others, for better or worse. In that way, it’s an inspiring, quiet film about humanity – and how it’s ultimately tied to other people we might not even know yet, like the invisible string Taylor Swift sings about on her new album.

Despite some plot shortcomings, this film is a refreshingly simple and hopeful one. Right about now, I’d rather choose Bray’s way of looking at it: by seeing the good. And that’s Holmes, Lucas and the all-too-rare narrative that takes the time to zoom in our lives and remind us what’s important. 

The Secret: Dare to Dream will be available to rent for $19.99 through On Demand platforms such as Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, VUDU and cable providers starting Friday, July 31.

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