Originally lined up to premiere at this year’s now cancelled SXSW, Netflix have stepped in to release Chris Bolan’s documentary A Secret Love. With Jason Blum onboard as executive producer and Ryan Murphy as producer, this is a real catch for Netflix whose recent original releases have been a mixed-bag, to put it mildly.

Bolan respectfully and lovingly tells the story of Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel, his two great aunts who revealed to their families that they weren’t just best friends and roommates, but that they had in fact been in a secret relationship for over six decades. What follows is a tender and sweet love story of two people who have been up against terrible oppression and prejudism their whole lives. With Donahue a very well known player in the All-American Girls Baseball League, and homosexuality illegal in the US, the couple had pretended to be cousins since 1947 in order to stay together. 

The two women are a delight to watch; their home movies and photos painting a gloriously timeless image of their lives together. Bolan doesn’t shy away from imperfections, and the inclusion of family dramas and upsets are what make this a truly universal story. While the bigger picture of their relationship is what initially draws you in, it’s the intimate look at growing old and the fear of losing a loved one that will have you weeping. That’s not to say this is schmaltzy or saccharine, the two women here are feisty and straight-talking, with Bolan never really forcing them to discuss their romance. 

A Secret Love is an exquisitely crafted documentary, intimate without ever losing sight of the incredible struggle that these two women and countless other couples went through. This is a personal story on a universal scale.


Available to watch on: Netflix


DIRECTOR: Chris Bolan 

SYNOPSIS: Falling in love in 1947, two women – Pat Henschel and pro baseball player Terry Donahue – begin a 65-year journey of love and overcoming prejudice.