Secrets & Lies Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ May 31, 2011
Working-class meats lower-class. Funny and heart warming.
Super Reviewer
½ May 9, 2012
What do you do when the baby you put up for adoption 25 years ago suddenly calls you out of the blue and wants to meet -- especially if you are not all that happy with your life at the moment. This movie takes us through that. What I found amazing is that I read that most of the lines were improv. The actors were given their roles, but no actual script.
Super Reviewer
July 30, 2007
It's been quite a while since something provoked me tears and laughter at the same time. A film with incredible humanity. Zany, tender and quite funny.
Super Reviewer
June 17, 2011
Stunning film! A powerhouse drama fueled by a BRILLIANT cast and a great script. One of the best indie films I have ever seen. A near perfect film about people who are all connected and must face their "secrets and lies." An extremely low-budget indie film, but this grabs you and never lets go.

Brenda Blethyn should have won the Oscar for Best Actress, NOT Frances McDormand! She gives a devastating, emotional, and stunning performance. A must see!
Super Reviewer
½ February 10, 2011
Mike Leigh's superb comedy-drama of family relationships. Heart-rending, bitter and delightful by turn

Leigh's modern classic captured a brace of Oscar nominations but went home empty handed in the face of The English Patient's near clean sweep. Even Blethyn's Cannes-winning performance lost out to Frances McDormand's Fargo turn (hard to challenge this decision, although in any other year the brilliant Blethyn would have deserved to win). The film eventually racked up a considerable number of awards, its Oscar success aside.

The story, every bit as believable and real as the rest of Leigh's work, centres on a woman, Cynthia Purley (Blethyn ), whose mid-life crisis is further exacerbated by the appearance on the scene of the daughter she gave away at birth, the wonderfully named Hortense Cumberbatch (Baptiste) - a young, beautiful, professional black woman who causes a few eyebrows to be raised in the family, and forces Cynthia to come to terms with her past.

Alternating between high comedy, scathing one-liners (Blethyn telling daughter Rushbrook she has a face like a "slapped arse" is a moment to treasure) and tear-jerking poignancy, with Spall, Rushbrook and Baptiste all offering strong support, this is nothing short of superb.

Verdict A genuine hit for Mike Leigh, Secrets And Lies has the coarse grain of real life, sympathetically and affirmingly fashioned.
Super Reviewer
½ February 2, 2011
Though I didn't like it as much as "Naked", I felt it to be an entertaining humorous family drama. Mike Leigh's execution is just amazing; I like the way he creates funny moments from the ordinary routine circumstances.
Super Reviewer
September 29, 2009
Not my favourite Mike Leigh film, but still a good film! The cast are fantastic!
Super Reviewer
½ February 8, 2009
Dysfunctional family drama about people haunted by the past. Reportedly most of the performances were improvised with director Mike Leigh simply providing the actors with an outline of their characters. This makes Brenda Blethyn's stunning performance all the more amazing, however it also explains the lack of focus that plagues the film. The surprising realization that forms the basis of the film, doesn't even come to light until fully one hour into this overlong 142 minute film. The film recovers a bit, but by then it's too little too late.
Super Reviewer
March 19, 2007
*On my "best of the 1990s" list.
Super Reviewer
August 9, 2007
It's like the greatest soap opera ever made!
Doc T.
Super Reviewer
September 13, 2013
'Secrets & Lies' is a literary piece of original work in cinema, showcasing director-writer Mike Leigh's unrivaled style of storytelling, that is as much a human comedy as it is a high quality drama.

I never knew of Mike Leigh's famous 'improvisation-acting' technique prior to watching this, and the more I look back, the more I realize that's what allowed me to fall in love with the film in the first place.

We're faced with characters so natural and substantial, they could easily be people in our lives. They face completely human dramas, things like keeping secrets, coping with death and mediating between relatives who don't get along - and with these elements coming together perfectly, the story is told from beginning to end without needing to catch a breath. Every scenario tells us more about each character, each dilemma, and in doing so, allows us to care more how everything turns out.

I've joked that there's enough content in 'Secrets & Lies' that it could've been a miniseries, but I'm glad it's this instead. I'm convinced this is Mike Leigh's masterpiece and it's definitely one of my favorite movies of all time.
Super Reviewer
March 13, 2014
The reuniting of a long lost daughter with an unlikely mother is likely the strongest Mike Leigh film of them all. The character portrayals are brilliant and the script flows with the proper levels of emotion and surprising good humour.
Super Reviewer
May 7, 2008
A multi-faceted melodrama that proves once again how deeply Mike Leigh understands the craft of acting, and how best to translate it to film. Masterfully woven to give a substantial amount of depth and insight into every character, the film is a showcase for a mosaic of outstanding performances. The gradual buildup works to amplify a truly effective dramatic ending. One of the best films of the 1990s.
Super Reviewer
½ March 29, 2008
A fascinating character study Secrets & Lies is about a black woman who goes in search of her birth mother who happens to be white. This however is really only the catalyst for an exploration into the lives of a family on the verge of collapse. Mike Leigh's direction is subtle and yet brilliant. There are some wonderful still shot scenes that just let the characters carry everything. The best thing is the performances with Brenda Blethyn and Timothy Spall being the best of an immensely talented group of actors who make their characters completely real. Leigh's approach to having extensive rehearsals with the actors determing the dialouge and mood of a scene works brilliantly here. I think many people might argue that the end of the film, where peoples secrets come tumbling out might seem a bit forced, but I disagree. These are all people who have been burying the truth for so long that it just won't stay in any longer. An emotional and fascinating story.
Critique Threatt
Super Reviewer
May 9, 2010
Landmark picture. A succesful black woman(Marianne Jean-Baptiste) looks for her biological mother when she finds out her mother is white this is where the film really takes off. Although I have mentioned race there is no wording of race in this film. Mike Leigh capture real life and secrets ready to be exposed.
Super Reviewer
½ March 23, 2009
Mike Leigh is surely one of my favorite director and once again he proved it to me with his movie Secrets and Lies. It was suspenseful, with many secrets and lies which these dysfunctional family were based on, and the entire movie was just a slow buildup until everything exploded in the end. Mike Leigh created strong and realistic characters with so much inner and emotional pain, that you felt sorry for each one of them as their secret were revealed. I admired Leigh's direction, once again he knew he had a winning story and for presenting us an interesting movie allowing the actors to give the performances of their lives.
Super Reviewer
½ May 26, 2009
I tried to watch this years back but got bored. I just watched it and it was a bit disfunctional and long but sweet enough. Mike Leigh has made far better films but this is still a solid work.
Super Reviewer
½ July 2, 2008
Incredibly moving and real piece of cinema. One of the best British films of the 90s.
Super Reviewer
June 14, 2007
Another solid real life comedy-drama from Mike Leigh with some great performances.
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