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Separate Lies (Bilingual) [Import]
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Secrets and lies spiral out of control in this heart-pounding suspense thriller. Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson star as James and Anna, a seemingly happy couple whose marriage begins to unravel when he learns shes been having an affair with their seductive neighbor Bill (Rupert Everett). When a man turns up dead, James faces another shocking revelation about his wife and her lover, forcing all three into a cover-up that may cost them everything.
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Top Customer Reviews
A privileged, wealthy couple (a very odd pairing of actors who also have zero chemistry) with a huge home, huge yard, perfect everything, live The Life until someone runs over the husband of one of their servants.
Through a series of twists and turns, lies and deceit, it comes out that the dead man was run over by (I shouldn't spoil it) and the cover-up begins. There's a side story about a former lover dying of AIDS, and the plot gets convoluted, and, in the end, you wonder where the heck the last 90 minutes went, and why you watched the whole film expecting it to get better.
The characters lack depth and are very unlikeable, act spoiled and stupid, and, in the end, we were very disappointed.
This film could've had depth, could've had a better plot, better twists and turns, and been so much better.
This is not a "who-dunnit", it isn't about murder or death, and it runs in endless circles. I wish we'd known before we bought it. Pssst. Want to buy a DVD? Cheap?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
James Manning (Tom Wilkinson) is a successful business obsessed solicitor in London, married to Anne (Emily Watson) who needs more in her life: the couple being childless live in the country in a beautiful estate, assisted by their long term 'cleaner' Maggie (Linda Bassett). They attend social outings and meet, among others, William Bule (Rupert Everett), the passively lazy wealthy neighbor. Anne decides they should entertain their neighbors and against gruff James' protestation Anne proceeds with planning: James arranges to 'not attend due to business'. On the night of the party there is a hit and run accident in which Maggie's husband is accidentally killed by someone in a Range Rover (she observed). When James returns home he sees a scratch on William's Range Rover and suspects William to be the perpetrator. Anne discourages James from going to the police with the information -'what possible good can it do but ruin Bill's life as a socialite and father and son of an important scion?'. From this first 'lie' the virus spreads: James confronts Bill who talks James out of going to the police, Anne confesses it was she who was driving Bill's Rover and is the one responsible, James convinces Anne to keep it quiet because it would ruin his reputation, Anne confesses she is having an affair with Bill, and the three of them concur that they will stick together on their big lie for the sake of the greater good. Anne eventually succumbs to the guilt of not telling her beloved Maggie that she is the one responsible and Maggie, herself guilty of a previous theft whose life was saved by Anne's mercy to hire her anyway, is the agent who draws the story to its surprising conclusion. Lies begat lies that begat lies, et cetera.
The major impact of this intrigue is the manner in which the isolated tragedy impacts each of the characters involved. Each changes in a dramatic way. Tome Wilkinson gives the finest performance of a career filled with brilliant performances: he is able to say more with his posture and facial expressions than about any actor before the audience today. Likewise the gifted Emily Watson adds yet another fine role to her repertoire as does the surprisingly smarmy Rupert Everett who, despite being yet another wealthy British 'gentleman', gives us a man both arid of spirit and yet ultimately needy. And the always-fine Linda Bassett takes a small role and finesses it making her character quietly central to the chaotic web of lies.
The cinematography by Tony Pierce-Roberts and the musical score by Stanislas Syrewicz add immeasurably to the multiple atmospheres the story encounters. This is ensemble playing at its finest, which always means that the director (Julian Fellowes) has a fine grasp on the piece. The interplay of these fine people makes the dodgy story work very well indeed. Grady Harp, February 06
At the beginning of this review I stated that the movie is a semi-thriller. The three main characters are involved in events that cause an increasing state of tension as the movie progresses, but I really feel that the director wasn't trying to make a thriller at all. The emotional struggles of the the trio are what's really important. One reviewer commented that the movie dragged. When I watched it I marveled at the tight editing of the movie. Many scenes seem to last only a minute or less, and none of them contain any unnecessary material.
One thing that surprised me though, is that a certain aspect of the plot simply vanishes later on in the movie. Aside from that I really felt that this was a well crafted film.
But then Rupert Everett shows up as William Bule and we are thrust forward 90 years in a matter of seconds as he insinuates himself into the plot and the marriage of James and Anne Manning (a mannered and slightly off her game, Emily Watson and an excellent Tom Wilkinson...when is someone going to mount a production of "Death of a Salesman" for this guy?)
We are in the infidelity arena in "Separate Lies" and no one makes a film about infidelity like the Brits: think "Damage" with the terrific trio of Jeremy Irons, Juliette Binoche and Rupert Graves and the now almost forgotten, "Betrayal" (shamefully only available on VHS) with Irons again, Patricia Hodge and Ben Kingsley. Unfortunately, "Separate Lies" is neither up to the task nor the excellent quality of these two films.
Though the action gets more intriguing and interesting as the movie moves towards its ambiguous and ironic denouement, the film loses steam as a punctured balloon loses air and deflates and this can only be blamed on the flaccid editing.
Rupert Everett's icy, loose and entitled performance is a great foil for Wilkinson's sweaty, worried and jittery performance: their scenes together crackle with wit and fire.
The almost always excellent Watson's Anne is problematic. She doesn't seem to grasp the core of her character and her performance is at times right on and at others, not.
"Separate Lies" is a good not a great film. It starts off like gangbusters, full of life and vigor and then seems to lose its way artistically. But despite this, Fellowes nonetheless displays talent and a distinctive point of view: things that are not easy to come by among the new crop of film makers.
A well made combination of character study and thriller Fellowes' film reminds me quite a bit of "Betrayal" with the emotional twists and turns the character must go through. All three main actors give terrific performances but Wilkinson's slow burn performance takes center stage. There the resemblance ends as the plot thickens ends as Manning, Anne and Bill are drawn further and further into a whirlpool of deceit. Anchored by a trio outstanding performances "Separate Lies" does what English dramas do best and Hollywood rarely can do anymore-create a drama focused on the characters and their world.
"Separate Lies" features robust, bold colors that look marvelous in this transfer. The transfer has remarkable clarity and detail with no digital or analog artifacts that I can detect. Fox has pulled out all the stops in putting together the look and sound for this DVD. The 5.1 mix sounds quite good although it's not designed to use the format to best effect the surround speakers are used for subtle sound effects.
Unfortunately we don't get much in the way of extras here just the original theatrical trailer and a commentary track however the commentary track by writer/director Fellowes is quite detailed with incredible insight and wit. This is one of the best commentary tracks I've heard so that makes up for the lack of other extras. Deleted scenes and outtakes would have been a nice edition to the film particularly with a trio of such terrific actors driving the drama in this film.
Although this dramatic thriller won't be to everyone's taste, "Separate Lies" manages to be an involving, powerful drama with a trio of terrific performances. Those interested in a thought provoking morally complex drama will enjoy this film. Keep in mind this is much more in keeping with some of Hitchcock's more thoughtful, quiet thrillers than the over-the-top or larger than life thrillers that tend to dominate the theaters today.
Manning's determined pursuit of the perpetrator leads to unexpected revelations, the most devastating that his wife was driving the vehicle in question. Suddenly the solution becomes personal and Manning's reputation and marriage is on the line, not to mention his anxiety for Anne's well-being. Surprisingly, it is Anne who cannot bear her own failings, riddled with guilt, not because of the affair she fails to end, but because of her betrayal of the widow, Mrs. Pierce, who refuses to believe Anne is at fault in spite of her abject confession. It is the housekeeper's forgiveness that shames them all, freeing them to attend to the business of living, the Manning's attempt to heal a flawed marriage: "She was tired of feeling guilty, so in the end she stayed." When Billy is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Anne fails her husband once more, leaving to minister to the man she loves, the torrid affair turned more tender by necessity.
The juxtaposition of emotions is delicate and thoughtful, the weight of personal guilt palpable, especially for Manning, who is so finely tuned to his moral compass, the one impediment to a successful marriage with a faithless woman. Ultimately, Bule dies and the Manning's come to terms with their loss of one another, moving on to separate lives, but with the peace of having gone from anger and resentment to a common forgiveness. The one act of violence that changes the direction of the Manning's lives is supplanted by a more compassionate view of the human condition and the peril of lies and infidelity. Beautifully nuanced, Wilkinson's performance stands out and Watson is perfection as the not-so-young, conflicted and unhappy wife of a very moral man. Luan Gaines/2006.
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