Secrets and Lies

Secrets and Lies

Director: Mike Leigh

Cast: Brenda Blethyn, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Phyllis Logan

     
 

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A family is forced to confront the personal issues they've been avoiding for years in this powerful, realistic drama. Cynthia (Brenda Blethyn) is a working-class British woman whose life has been a long series of painful disappointments. She's single with no romantic prospects and a dead-end job at a box factory. Her daughter Roxanne (Claire Rushbrook) works as a… See more details below

Overview

A family is forced to confront the personal issues they've been avoiding for years in this powerful, realistic drama. Cynthia (Brenda Blethyn) is a working-class British woman whose life has been a long series of painful disappointments. She's single with no romantic prospects and a dead-end job at a box factory. Her daughter Roxanne (Claire Rushbrook) works as a street sweeper and is chronically bitter. Cynthia helped raise her brother, Maurice (Timothy Spall), who is doing well as a photographer, but she rarely sees him and usually blames his wife, Monica (Phyllis Logan). One day, Cynthia receives a phone call from a woman named Hortense (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), who claims to be the daughter Cynthia put up for adoption years ago. Cynthia initially reacts with panic, but she agrees to meet Hortense and is surprised to discover that she's a successful and soft-spoken eye doctor -- and that she's black. Cynthia is soon convinced that Hortense is just who she claims to be, and they quickly form a friendship that gives Cynthia a new source of emotional strength. However, when Cynthia decides to introduce the family to her new "friend," it forces them to confront the lies and evasions that have kept them apart all these years. Largely improvised by director Mike Leigh and his cast, Secrets & Lies features standout work by Brenda Blethyn (who earned an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress), Marianne Jean-Baptiste (who was nominated as Best Supporting Actress), and Timothy Spall.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Michael Hastings
Mike Leigh's biggest success in America at the time, 1996's Secrets & Lies was also the closest the renegade director had ever come to fashioning a conventional melodrama. Its universal themes of familial reunion and forgiveness no doubt contributed to its success at the box office -- as well as with the Academy, who nominated it for five Oscars -- but there's no mistaking the unforced, nuanced rhythms of Secrets & Lies for those of a traditional Hollywood tearjerker. As per Leigh's improvisational style, the film spreads its attention democratically amongst its characters until finding its core relationship: the unlikely mother-daughter combo of Brenda Blethyn and Marianne Jean-Baptiste. Alternately histrionic and sympathetic, Academy Award nominee Blethyn chooses not to opt for an overly sympathetic performance à la Shirley MacLaine or Bette Midler; instead, she and Leigh have the courage to make Cynthia somewhat grating at times (an opinion shared by her other daughter, played by the hilariously frustrated Claire Rushbrook). For her part, Best Supporting Actress nominee Jean-Baptiste is a model of reserve and compassion. Watch for her reactions during the train station reunion scene -- Leigh hadn't told either actress whom to expect during the shoot.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/27/2000
UPC:
0086162438936
Original Release:
1996
Rating:
R
Source:
20th Century Fox

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Brenda Blethyn Cynthia
Marianne Jean-Baptiste Hortense
Phyllis Logan Monica
Timothy Spall Maurice
Claire Rushbrook Roxanne
Ron Cook Stuart
Elizabeth Berrington Jane
Lee Ross Paul
Lesley Manville Social Worker
Brian Bovell Hortense's Brother
Trevor Laird Hortense's Brother
Terence Harvey First Bride's Father
Richard Syms Vicar
Annie Hayes Mother in Family Group
Jean Ainslie Grandmother
Daniel Smith Teenage Son
Lucy Sheen Nurse
Stephen Churchett Man in Suit
David Neilson Man in Suit
Peter Waddington Man in Suit
Rachel Lewis Graduate
Gordon Winter Laughing Man
Peter Wight Father in Family Group
Alison Steadman Dog Owner
Liz Smith Cat owner
Sheila Kelley Fertile Mother
Linda Beckett Pin-up Housewife
Philip Davis Man in Suit
Anthony O'Donnell Uneasy Man
Ruth Sheen Laughing Woman

Technical Credits
Mike Leigh Director,Screenwriter
Christine Blundell Makeup
Mick Boggis Sound/Sound Designer
Simon Channing-Williams Producer
Alison Chitty Production Designer
Andrew Dickson Score Composer,Production Designer
Jon Gregory Editor
Peter Maxwell Sound/Sound Designer
Jennie Osborn Asst. Director
Dick Pope Cinematographer
Maria Price Costumes/Costume Designer
George Richards Sound/Sound Designer
Chris Rose Asst. Director
Eve Stewart Art Director

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