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Secrets and Lies [Import]
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After her adoptive parents die, a young black woman seeks out her natural birth mother, only to discover her mother is white, thus setting in motion the revelation of a whole series of secrets and lies.
If a film fan had never heard of director Mike Leigh, one might explain him as a British Woody Allen. Not that Leigh's films are whimsical or neurotic; they are tough-love examinations of British life--funny, outlandish, and biting. His films share a real immediacy with Allen's work: they feel as if they are happening now. Leigh works with actors--real actors--on ideas and language. There is no script at the start (and sometimes not at the end). Secrets and Lies involves Hortense (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), an elegant black woman wanting to learn her birth mother's identity. She will find it's Cynthia (Brenda Blethyn), who is one of the saddest creatures we've seen in film. She's also one of the most real and, ultimately, one of the most lovable. Timothy Spall is Cynthia's brother, a giant man full of love who is being slowly defeated by his fastidious wife (Phyllis Logan).
There is a great exuberance of life in Secrets & Lies, winner of the Palme D'Or and best actress (Blethyn) at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival--not Zorba-type life but the little battles fought and won every day. Leigh's honest interpretation of daily life is usually found only on the stage. Secrets & Lies is more realistic than a stage production, however, especially when Leigh shows us uninterrupted scenes. Critic David Denby states that Leigh has "made an Ingmar Bergman film without an instant of heaviness or pretension." If that sounds like your cup of tea, see Secrets & Lies. --Doug Thomas --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Tha acting is simply awesome. No other words to put it.Everyone from Brenda Blethyn to Timothy Spall to Marianna Jean Baptiste, to Claire Rushbrook, all take turns stealing scenes in performances that are so natural and on point that at times, it doesn't even feel like they're acting. This is true acting that cuts straight to the heart.The script is wonderful in that it provides so many little details that one wouldn't think to include in a movie. Just the smallest things which somehow bring the characters to life.
A wonderful film that is never going to get any acclaim because this is all about the actors.No special effects or halle berry sex scenes. No way-this is an actor's film.And they steal the show.If you have taste in REAL cinema, do not miss this gem of a movie.IT IS SIMPLY WONDERFUL.
The story focuses a young black woman`s (Marianne Jean-Baptiste)quest to find her real mother who abandoned her as a child (Brenda Blethyn). Problem is, her mother`s life is currently a mess and that new element ends up generating some problems, conflicts and tensions in the family.
Mike Leigh`s direction offers time and room for his actors to develop the characters, creating three-dimensional individuals who seem real everyday people. The scenes are very well crafted, with close attention to detail and strong, credible dialogue. The performances are all terrific and natural, and the story flows well although the pace is a bit slow at times. It`s certainly one of the most interesting movies about family ties and the need of belonging somewhere, also focusing the differences and personality flaws that keep people away from each other.
At times sad and moving, in other moments cheerful and uplifting, "Secrets & Lies" presents the necessary but at times difficult experience of family reunion in a realistic way.
A worthwile, poignant drama with much to recommend.
I absolutely loved TOPSY-TURVY, but I am not sure but that SECRETS AND LIES is the stronger film. Less flashy, and I can easily imagine someone who does not enjoy dealing exclusively with interpersonal dynamics not particularly enjoying this. But for anyone who can appreciate an intense family drama, this film will be tough to top.
But the thing that most impressed me about SECRETS AND LIES is the acting. Brenda Blethyn was even better here than she was in LITTLE VOICE. In fact, I honestly do not know of any performance by an actor or actress anywhere that I can say is demonstrably better. I just sat in front of my VCR agog at her performance. I later read that she won the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival, the British Academy Awards, and the Golden Globe Awards. The only award she failed to win was the Oscar, for which she was nominated, but which went instead to Frances MacDormand in FARGO. I loved FARGO and thought MacDormand did a great job, but if you watch these two performances side by side, you gain additional proof that the voters for the Oscars either do not watch all the films or see this as a sort of popularity contest. Frances MacDormand's performance was cute and her accent was convincing, but Brenda Blethyn's performance was the emotional equivalent of a fist to the guts.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I have to admit with one reviewer here that I, too, can find Blethyn's voice annoying/ 'unfortunate', especially in dramatic roles. Read morePublished 2 days ago by GtheG
A masterpiece! One of Mike Lee's best works --if not his Best Work. Lots of secrets and lies within a middle-class family unraveled layer by layer. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Ruhi E. Tuzlak
A beautiful little gem of a movie. Only wish it was currently on DVD.Published 15 months ago by MarkAntony
I saw this movie many years ago, and it is one that has stayed with me. The story is excellent, the acting is superb. I am going to buy this DVD.Published 22 months ago by Brenda Bourne
My daughter is named after Hortensia in this film. The name is nice and the personality of the "personnage" is great. This is a subtile film for all Mike Leigh lovers.Published 23 months ago by Nat.Hort.
I would be dishonest if I did not compliment Leigh and his cast on such beautifully acted roles interwoven in such a sweetly told story, but why on Earth do movie makers persist in... Read morePublished on Jan. 16 2004 by SusScrofa
This film is possibly the most emotionally powerful film I have ever seen. I have never cared more for a group of characters as I did for those in "Secrets and Lies. Read morePublished on Oct. 14 2003 by Eddie Konczal
Sit back and savour the genius of the master storyteller, Mike Leigh. In Secrets and Lies, Leigh draws incredible, multi-dimensional performances out of a talented cast headed by... Read morePublished on Aug. 26 2003 by David L Rattigan