Every Secret Thing Ending, Explained: What Happened to Brittany?

The 2014 crime film ‘Every Secret Thing’ directed by Amy Berg, is a psychological thriller featuring Elizabeth Banks, Danielle Macdonald, and Dakota Fanning, among others. After committing an unspeakable crime, Alice Manning and Ronnie Fuller are labeled “baby killers” and shipped off to a juvenile correction facility for years. Shortly after their release, Brittany Lyttle, a kid reminiscent of Olivia Barnes, the murder victim in Alice and Ronnie’s case, goes missing. As Detective Nancy Porter heads the investigation for the missing child, Alice and Ronnie come up as the obvious suspects, which uncovers various mysteries about the two girls.

Given the film’s dual scattered timeline, intricate plotlines, and utilization of Alice as an unreliable narrator, viewers might have some questions about the film’s end. Therefore, here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Every Secret Thing.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!

Every Secret Thing Plot Synopsis

At 11, Alice Manning’s mother, Helen, forces her daughter to take their new neighbor Ronnie Fuller with her to another girl’s birthday party. Alice has to listen to her mother but is unpleased about associating herself with Ronnie since other girls consider her weird. At the pool party, Ronnie gets into an argument with the birthday girl, which leads the mother to send Ronnie back alongside Alice. On the way home, the two girls come across a house with a baby, Olivia Barnes, crying in her bassinet outside on the porch. Shortly afterward, the two girls get arrested for infant murder and tried as minors receiving a seven-year sentence at the Schechter correction facility.

At 18, both girls are released and return to their homes. Alice is steadfast in her belief that she was wrongfully convicted of the crime and has long since cut all ties with Ronnie. Both girls now live their separate lives. Soon, while Maveen Lyttle shops for a couch with her boyfriend, Devlin Hatch, her three-year-old daughter, Brittany, goes missing. Detectives Nancy Porter and Kevin Jones take over the case and launch an investigation.

Eventually, Olivia’s mother, Cynthia, hears about the case from the news and pays both Brittany’s mother and the detectives a visit. Given the obvious physical similarities between Brittany and Olivia, two young biracial girls, Cynthia firmly believes Alice and Ronnie are behind the kidnapping this time as well. Following the conversation with Cynthia, the detectives arrive at Ronnie’s workplace to question her about Brittany, but the teenage girl makes a run for it.

However, the cops manage to get a hold of Alice, who cooperates with the questioning and tries to convince Porter that Ronnie is behind the crime. Additionally, she also recounts the events of Olivia’s case, casting herself as innocent and shouldering all the blame on Ronnie. Once Porter catches Ronnie, she tries to hear her side of the story, but Ronnie’s record of the seven-year-old crime differs from Brittany, and she’s much less cooperative about the current investigation.

Ultimately, while looking through Alice and Brittany’s records from their time at Schechter, Porter learns about Brittany’s pregnancy at 15, which she carried to term. Meanwhile, Alice hangs out near the public pool, spying on everyone from a distance, where she runs into Ronnie. When Porter, following a hunch, shows up for Alice, Ronnie manages to run away. Although Alice lies about Ronnie confessing to the crime, Porter arrests her. At the station, through Helen’s help, Porter discovers the harsh and disturbing truth.

Every Secret Thing Ending: What Happened to Brittany?

After Finding Olivia’s dead body, Porter was left incredibly traumatized to the point where she stopped working on missing children cases. Nevertheless, she takes Brittany’s case, believing she can handle it. Brittany’s disappearance obviously takes over Porter’s life, who is restless and unwilling to put down the investigation for fear of losing precious hours. Still, she tries to look at everything objectively, which is why she doesn’t go after Alice and Ronnie until Cynthia insists.

Even so, through Alice and Ronnie, Porter only tries to understand the mind of someone who would kill a child. Eventually, as she uncovers more information and tugs at different threads, the truth starts to reveal itself. After discovering that Alice had a biracial child, Porter realizes that after returning from juvie, Alice must have believed Olivia was her kid and kidnapped her.

However, it isn’t until Helen finally stops protecting her daughter and shares the whole story that Porter is able to connect all the dots. Rodrigo Gutierrez, an adult employee at the facility, seduced a fifteen-year-old Alice, which led to a pregnancy. By the time Helen finds out about the same, too many months have passed for Alice to abort the baby. As a result, Alice gives birth to a kid who is immediately put up for private adoption.

Moreover, in order to console her daughter, Helen feeds Alice lies about the baby, fabricating a heart-shaped birthmark on their shoulder. Since Helen lies and tells Alice a couple living on the west side of town adopted the kid, Alice starts scouting the neighborhood upon her return. Alice is desperate to find her kid and wants to be a part of their life. Due to the same, Alice reaches out to Rodrigo and gets back in contact with him.

Soon, Alice finds Brittany at the furniture store and realizes the kid has a heart-shaped birthmark on her shoulder. Even though the birthmark is a coincidence, Alice and Rodrigo recklessly believe it to be a sign and kidnap Brittany, giving her a new haircut and clothes so no one would recognize her. Afterward, the pair stores the kid at Rodrigo’s mother’s house while Alice tries to influence the police investigation by painting Ronnie to look like the culprit.

In the end, Porter finds Brittany at Rodrigo’s mother’s house, safe and alive. Maveen and Devlin reunite with their daughter, and Alice and Rodrigo get arrested for their crime. However, Alice manages to cut a deal with the authorities and gets all charges against her dropped. Instead, she presses charges on Rodrigo for statutory rape and walks out of the ordeal as a victim rather than a criminal.

Did Alice Kill Olivia?

The film ends with a shot of a young Alice standing over Olivia’s bassinet the day she and Ronnie kidnapped the baby. Even though the narrative repeatedly instates that Ronnie took the kid and ran away with her, this image proposes a different alternative. Was Alice behind the entire thing from the start?

By the film’s end, it’s easy to get a good enough understanding of Alice’s character. Alice has a bad relationship with Helen and holds a deep-rooted belief that her mother dislikes her. Helen had Alice when she was young and hated her father. As such, she was all too happy to be rid of him. However, Alice believed her mother sees a reflection of her father in her. Therefore Helen must hate Alice. As a result, Alice has a weird relationship with the concept of motherhood, wherein she wants to one-up Helen and become a better mother than her.

Whenever Alice discusses the time she and Ronnie kept Olivia hidden in the woods, she consistently paints herself as a blameless bystander. According to Alice, she tries to stop Ronnie through every step and consequently isn’t at fault. Inversely, in Ronnie’s retelling of the incident, Alice actively participates in the kidnapping, entertaining, and feeding Olivia. Likewise, toward the end, when the baby falls deadly sick, Ronnie tries to return her to her parents, but Alice talks her out of the same.

If Ronnie’s word is to be believed, Alice manipulates her into killing Olivia by threatening to throw her under the bus otherwise. As an eighteen-year-old, Alice goes on to do just that multiple times by trying to frame Ronnie for Brittany’s disappearance. As such, it’s safe to assume Alice is an unreliable narrator. The film’s end likely alludes to the fact that Olivia’s kidnapping started with Alice instead of Ronnie, as the narrative suggests initially.

Moreover, unlike Ronnie, Alice never shows remorse about her involvement in Olivia’s death and only finds blame in other people for it. The same could be a manifestation of buried guilt that she neglects, instead projecting her mistakes on Ronnie and Porter. Seven years ago, when Ronnie tearfully admits her crime to Helen, but her own daughter never mentions it, Helen realizes the same. As such, even though Ronnie undoubtedly killed the child, Alice’s involvement in it cannot be disregarded.

What Happens to Ronnie?

The film’s entire source of conflict can be traced back to one point in time: the birthday pool party. After Alice and Ronnie are all but thrown out of the party, Alice feels a sense of ostracisation from her peers and blames it all on Ronnie. Therefore, she constantly pushes Ronnie around and tries to ruin her life, like she believes Ronnie has ruined hers.

Alice even openly admits to the same when she runs into Ronnie outside the public pool. Alice intentionally makes Ronnie kill Olivia so that the authorities would take Ronnie away, which would rid Alice of having to carry her around in social situations. A significant part of Alice’s character is her belief that she gets unfair treatment because of her weight. She constantly believes she faces unparalleled levels of ostracization because she’s overweight.

Although Alice’s feelings about getting body-shamed are entirely valid, considering even her mother constantly taunts her about it, she fails to realize that Ronnie is in the same boat as her. Ronnie is considerably less privileged than her peers when it comes to her socio-economic status. Similarly, she comes from an unhealthy household with a father who is physically abusive toward her mother.

Therefore, when Ronnie finds a beacon of hope in Helen when she treats Ronnie with respect and kindness, she latches on to it. However, Alice detests her for it. Due to the same, Alice manipulates Ronnie into killing Olivia. Years later, when history repeats itself, Ronnie finds herself face-to-face with Alice again.

When Alice tells Ronnie that the police would probably believe Ronnie’s involvement in Brittany’s disappearance since she’s killed a baby before, Ronnie freaks out and runs away. As memories of the incident resurface, they fill Ronnie with insurmountable guilt paired with the fear of incarceration. Ronnie has already lived through juvenile and likely knows the dangers that await her in prison.

Therefore, racked by guilt and surrounded by violence, Ronnie commits suicide, slitting her wrist in the bathtub. Alice’s end juxtaposes hers after she manages to turn the narrative around and successfully makes everyone believe in her “innocence.” In the end, Alice finally lives out her dream of telling her story as a victim of the justice system who never committed a single crime, let alone two.

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