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Secrets & Lies

Timothy Spall , Brenda Blethyn , Mike Leigh    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 119.00
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Product Description

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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

Product Description

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.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By adriana
Format:VHS Tape
This is a little known but absolutely wonderful film that, corny as this sounds, deserves to be shared by many.A small film about a family and the small day to day trials and tribulations they go through.It's very realistic and deals with the the most average everyday things.What makes this film so amazing is how it is able to present this window into the lives of this group of people with such wit and insight, sadness and honesty; ultimately resulting in a film which is tender and uplifting and hopeful.
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars On How Life Is Feb. 4 2004
Format:VHS Tape
This superbly acted and written drama is certainly one of the best british movies of the 90`s, dealing with human feelings and relationhips in an unique, realistic and powerful way. Like the best british movies out there, it wisely combines drama and comedy, creating a meaningful portrayal of life.
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars SUBTLE, BRILLIANT June 10 2001
By EriKa
Format:VHS Tape
Apart from listening to the supremely annoying voice of Brenda Blethyn this film is perfect. It is not overdrawn, overlong, or too far out of the realm of reality. The story is unusual, the script is well written, the cast is very down to earth seeming (which is something special about British films. Real people seem to populate the cast rather than out of this world beauties). Blethyn is excellent in her role as a beleaguered single mother, rather ditzy,...and not overly bright. She struggles to make ends meet and to take care of her daughter, who is also not the most pleasant person to get along with. A second storyline focuses on Blethyn’s character’s brother, Maurice, who is a photographer. He is heartbroken because he and his wife have done everything in the world to try to have children but cannot. They are the only other two people in the world, besides Blethyn, who know that Blethyn once gave birth to a child (when she was barely a teen herself) which she gave up for adoption. One day a woman named Hortense phones Blethyn and tells her that she is the daughter Blethyn once gave up for adoption. Blethyn is horrified, and this starts her emotional roller coaster and her awakening a whole host of new feelings about this daughter. They start up a relationship, but only after Blethyn is reluctantly forced to conquer the fact that this abandoned daughter is black. At first she is incredulous and refuses to believe it and says she never had sex with a black man, but she has a breakdown when she realises she did. It is not clearly spelled out for us (which is another fabulous aspect of foreign films which leave much to the viewer’s conjecture) but it is alluded to that Blethyn may have been raped by Hortense’s father. Read more ›
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Format:VHS Tape
I find it impossible to recommend this movie strongly enough. I recently saw it for the first time, and oddly enough knew next to nothing about it. A year or so ago I saw TOPSY-TURVY with some friends, and they were raving about Mike Leigh as a filmmaker. So, when looking through my local video store for something new and intersting to view, two names jumped out at me from the box: Mike Leigh and Brenda Blethyn, whose performance in LITTLE VOICE had impressed me greatly.
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.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Emotional...sweet
Published 1 month ago by Kriti
5.0 out of 5 stars Love This Movie
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 5 months ago by Brenda Bourne
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie !
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 6 months ago by Nat.Hort.
3.0 out of 5 stars One Lie I Wish Filmakers Would Stop Telling
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 more
Published on Jan. 16 2004 by SusScrofa
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful emotional experience
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 more
Published on Oct. 14 2003 by Eddie Konczal
5.0 out of 5 stars Leigh's greatest?
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 more
Published on Aug. 26 2003 by www.DavidLRattigan.com
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensational
I didn't see this movie when it first came out, i waited till it came on Cable, and watched everytime it came on, and I love it so much, that I found myself working out to it, each... Read more
Published on July 29 2003 by Kimberly A-Oden
4.0 out of 5 stars very good
I am a Brenda Bleythen fan, although I found her voice annoying in this film! She plays Cynthia, the 40something single mother of Roxanne, who is about to turn 21. Read more
Published on March 29 2003 by momazon
5.0 out of 5 stars A must see
Why this movie is restricted to over-18'sis a mystery to me.It has some of the most superb acting, and very creative directing you will see. Read more
Published on May 14 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars excellant film with many reasons to watch it
i found the movie was incredibly moving with all the issues it brought to light. It has a great impact on how people view issues such as race and class. Read more
Published on May 22 2001 by trina ellis
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