Secrets & Lies

1996

Action / Drama

Synopsis


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Director

Cast

Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Hortense Cumberbatch
Lesley Manville as Social Worker
Timothy Spall as Maurice Purley
Phyllis Logan as Monica Purley
720p 1080p
934.28 MB
1280*720
English
R
24.000 fps
2hr 16 min
P/S 4 / 23
2.06 GB
1920*1080
English
R
24.000 fps
2hr 16 min
P/S 4 / 16

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Josh Miller ([email protected]) 7 / 10

Top 5 Film Class Movies: FILM #5

In honor of my film class wrapping up this week, I will be counting down my top five favorite films we have watched for class. I begin with my #5 choice, Secrets and Lies, a Mike Leigh drama/comedy about the secrets and lies (shock) that tear apart a dysfunctional British family. Brenda Blethyn plays Cynthia Purley, the very dramatic and always crying single mother who is one day contacted by the daughter she gave up for adoption…who happens to be black. The look on Blethyn's face is priceless as she flashes back to a one night stand she had as a young lady.

Most would think Leigh's story would revolve around race relations, which is not the case at all (race is never an issue). Instead he revolves his story around the Purley family, a unit so torn apart from over the years that a simple family cook out turns into a soap opera. "Secrets and lies! We're all in pain! Why can't we share our pain? I've spent my entire life trying to make people happy, and the three people I love the most in the world hate each other's guts, and I'm in the middle! I can't take it anymore!" This memorable quote comes from Maurice Purley, brother to Cynthia and talented photographer. Maurice is your classic good guy, the passive patriarch who always tries to hold the family together. (The irony around his character is that he cannot conceive a child with his wife, Monica). You almost feel sorry for the successful Hortense, as if she would be better off not knowing her birth mother at all.

The actors are so talented in this film that Leigh, at times, uses no cuts during a scene. The camera stays in one spot as the actors' play out scenes that can last 10-15 minutes. After you get past the difficult British dialect (you may want to use captions while watching), you will feel as if you are that nosey neighbor who can't help but listen and enjoy the problems this family confronts…and that's no lie.

Reviewed by wainot 10 / 10

Honesty & Integrity

This is one of my very favorite movies of the last 10, even 20 years. For me, its greatness lies in the resonance of the story lines, the brilliant acting, (Brenda Blethyn, Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Timothy Spall all turned in Oscar-worthy turns, and the rest of the ensemble were all with them), and Mike Leigh's direction.

This is a feast of tremendous acting, by a most talented ensemble who really become their characters. The scenes play out very naturally, and you really feel a part of the story, with special empathy towards - in no particular order - Cynthia, Maurice and Hortense. As the film builds towards a showdown/climax at the birthday party, you can even take a step back and at least sympathize with Roxanne and even, Monica.

This rates 10/10 by this reviewer, who wishes that more directors - if they truly have a good story to tell - will shoot and edit the film in a way that appreciates the audience's intelligence and capacity to feel without being manipulated by a director's avant-garde(??) bag of tricks ...for comparison, perhaps see my scathing review of 21 Grams! What a contrast of styles!!!

Reviewed by tom-darwin 10 / 10

3-bucket tearjerker of hiding one's pain in plain sight

With modern films placing so much emphasis on visuals and sound & the stage specializing in avant-garde drama or comedy, it's rare to find old-fashioned storytelling outside of books. But it's rare at any time or in any medium to find a work combining such smartness & sensitivity as "Secrets & Lies." After the deaths of her adoptive parents, urbane young London optometrist Hortense (Jean-Baptiste) searches for her biological origins and locates her mother: alcoholic, neurotic, once-promiscuous factory worker Cynthia (Blethyn, in one of the finest film performances of all time). Each is stunned to find something about the other that neither knew: that the mother is white and the daughter is black! The film has sideplots rather than subplots, two other stories developed in depth, parallel to the main story, although Leigh masterfully uses them to support rather than weaken the central relationship between Cynthia & Hortense. Cynthia's daughter Roxanne (Rushbrook) is coming of age and exploring love, work and independence while struggling between the love, pity, resentment & disgust she holds for her mother. Cynthia's brother Maurice (Spall, a roly-poly, English Jimmy Stewart), a prosperous but overworked studio photographer, gives the family name a facade of middle-class respectability even as he & his wife Monica (Logan) carefully conceal an embarrassment of their own. Through a variety of small, seemingly random but fascinating illustrations like the Canterbury Tales, the film hammers home its theme: that lying & deception become not just easy but casual in an age that emphasizes individualism & responsibility, where you assume that no one, not even the closest of your relatives, wants to hear about your problems. Rather than help one another, each suffers alone, while every lie they so readily spin must constantly be fed with more deception. A story that could have been both preachy & crushingly depressing is cut with just the right amount of humor in all the right places, until the heartbreaking climax that is as powerful as any ever filmed. There isn't an air of judgment or lecturing morality, no attempt to make a sweeping commentary of society. If any such message is delivered it must be derived from the story. In a superb cast Blethyn stands out as the haunted, tormented Cynthia, hurt & angered by the contempt & pity she sees in the eyes of her brother, sister-in-law & daughter as she staves off nervous breakdown with the bottle. Yet she can't bring herself to turn away again from the child she gave up long ago, even though only she knows how much pain lies ahead if she doesn't. Jean-Baptiste provides a stark contrast as the cool-headed but intense young woman who might be repulsed by the coarse, painful world in which Cynthia lives, yet never shows any reluctance to enter it. There's a spareness about the film (so many scenes go without music that you're often surprised to remember that there IS a music score) that engrosses the viewer, making him concentrate, rather than giving an air of cheapness. It's not Shakespeare or Greek theater, since no one gets stabbed or finds out he's married his mother, but Tennessee Williams or Anton Chekhov would have been envious of this effort.

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