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Un Secret (A Secret) (2008)

tomatometer

80

Average Rating: 7/10
Reviews Counted: 45
Fresh: 36 | Rotten: 9

A Secret is poignant, sad, and beautifully crafted, featuring fine performances that stave off a drift toward soap opera territory.

85

Average Rating: 7.4/10
Critic Reviews: 20
Fresh: 17 | Rotten: 3

A Secret is poignant, sad, and beautifully crafted, featuring fine performances that stave off a drift toward soap opera territory.

audience

63

liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 3,531

My Rating

Movie Info

Informed that his elderly father has mysteriously disappeared, anxious Parisian François (Mathieu Amalric) recalls his tragic family history in director Claude Miller's adaptation of the fact-based novel by author Philippe Grimbert. As a sickly young child, François (Valentin Vigourt) instinctively knew that he was a disappointment to his champion swimmer mother, Tania (Cécile De France), and gymnast father, Maxime (Patrick Bruel). While François does find some amount of solace in his friendship

Unrated,

Drama

Claude Miller

Mar 10, 2009

$0.5M

Strand Releasing - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (45) | Top Critics (20) | Fresh (36) | Rotten (9) | DVD (1)

The title of this movie suggests the difficulty in writing about it. You can't reveal a secret without spoiling it, and in this intriguing, complex family drama spread out over several time frames covering half a century, the secrets keep on coming

March 6, 2009 Full Review Source: Film.com
Film.com
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A structural mess that turns contrived just when it should be hitting home.

December 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A Secret is a showcase for great acting.

October 24, 2008 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Suitably tense, sad, and deeply poignant.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: AV Club
AV Club
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A fine drama that stands as Gallic vet Claude Miller's best in at least a decade.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The soapy climax is unnecessary.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It is a deeply moving and heartfelt story that makes an indelible impression on the viewers' hearts and minds.

April 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Entertainment Spectrum
Entertainment Spectrum

In Un Secret, French filmmaker Claude Miller expertly weaves together a family history, merging the personal and political, the celebratory and the tragic, while incorporating three distinct time periods.

February 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Sacramento Bee
Sacramento Bee

Sagnier beautifully plays the most crucial moment. She's part of a fine ensemble cast that somewhat obscures the heavy-handed symbolism and punch-pulling finale.

January 9, 2009 Full Review Source: Oregonian
Oregonian

Avoiding histrionics and overstatement, Un Secret reveals a story about a family's past suffering that may not be unique, but in this telling is quietly powerful.

December 31, 2008 Full Review Source: One Guy's Opinion
One Guy's Opinion

Miller's lyrical use of fleshy details, such as the way de France's black bathing suit clings to her proud body, brings his movie a tactile humanity.

December 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Baltimore Sun | Comment (1)
Baltimore Sun

Miller and his excellent cast create characters whom we can understand and even empathize with, even as they commit horrible breaches of faith.

November 12, 2008

Beautifully and poignantly captures the complexities of being a Jew in France from the 1930's to the present, where layers of a family's history are revealed by jumping back and forth in time.

November 1, 2008 Full Review Source: Film-Forward.com
Film-Forward.com

A blue-chip cast and handsome stagings do little to prevent this French movie being a muddled, pretentious washout. Substantial re-editing might have helped.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Guardian
Guardian

Given its crackerjack performances and fine evocation of period, Miller's film has already been a popular offering in Paris and should not long remain a secret from sophisticated moviegoers when it opens in the States.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Compuserve
Compuserve

A remarkable film with an unusual story.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

I was not prepared for the climactic emotional devastation, but as all the pieces fall into place, the film crystallises as perfectly as Tania's flawless backward high dive piercing through the clear water with beauty and precision.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Engaging wartime drama that pulls off a bold narrative shift, thanks to impressive direction and superb performances from a talented ensemble cast.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: ViewLondon
ViewLondon

Despite strong performances, this is a rigidly uncinematic effort.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Audience Reviews for Un Secret (A Secret)

Nothing extraordinary or a secret that most can't see coming, yet I liked it. Maybe because besides being based on real events, the execution too was good enough & that it's not just a Holocaust/war movie.
May 21, 2013
imrealgod

Super Reviewer

A rather slow moving, nice French film about the holocaust, and its effects on an entire family. The movie is rather tedious, even as it portrays deep passions, and grief, flickering just below the surface of its characters. However, the acting is wonderful, and all else is beautifully done....so I forgive them.
May 23, 2011
itsjustme2004

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]In "A Secret," it is 1955 and Francois(Valentin Vigourt) is a bookish seven-year old boy who comes as something as a disappointment to his athletic parents(Patrick Bruel & Cecile De France), spending most of his time at the home of Louise(Julie Depardieu), a doctor and family friend who injects him with daily vitamin shots. Therefore, Francois imagines having an older brother who is everything he is not.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]It is 1985 and Francois(Mathieu Amalric) is a doctor who works with the handicapped. One day, he receives word that his father's dog has died and that he is missing from home.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"A Secret" is an intelligent movie about identity with a fine cast that while moving back and forth in time, manages to return to the same point in space.(Speaking of which, it is interesting to see Ludivine Sagnier not to play the sexpot for a change...) Much of Francois' day dreams make sense, considering they probably originate from snatches of overheard conversations between his parents over the years. As good as the movie could have been, it is marred by two obvious flaws. First, there is the central incident which comes late in the film, so I will not spoil it except to say that I believe the correct turn of phrase is cutting off the nose to spite the face. Since the resolution of the movie hangs on this one scene, then it is very important that it be credible. Of which I have my doubts, even though the movie's central story is based on a true story. So, did this really happen? Second, Francois(who is probably scarred for life from seeing his parents have sex) boils the entire Holocaust down to people having more love for their pets than their fellow human beings. He is right that this is definitely a misplacement of priorities but not a very serious one and he has it the wrong way around, anyway.(He is also wrong about his father. In mourning the death of his dog, old memories are suddenly brought to the surface, much like with the stuffed toy thirty years previously.) The Nazis(and any other genocidal maniacs, for that matter) lowered their intended victims to the level of animals, so as to make it that much easier to kill them. [/font]
October 6, 2008
Harlequin68
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Est-il juste parce qu'il est Francais?

Based on a true story, Un Secret sees post-war France through the eyes of pre-teen Francois, an only child of two ridiculously good-looking parents.

When he becomes curious about the inner workings of his parents' relationship, a close friend reveals secrets about the multi-layered and convulated love affair that began 15 or so years earlier, and the consequences (some fatal) that occurred because of it. The film captures the complexities of being a Jew in France from the 1930's to the present, where layers of a family's history are revealed by jumping back and forth in time. It's about a gripping mystery and an ever-timely reminder of the terrible power of repression and silence.

Beautifully acted and exquisitely photographed, director Claude Miller's superb drama is awash with the ripples created by unlived lives. He brings together beautiful actors, great sceneries and thought-provoking stories but misses the mark in the alignment of all the elements. Still, the performances of all the cast are compassionate and compelling.

The cinematography for the most is absolutely gorgeous. But it seems that Miller has cheapened the audience's experience, for rather than exploring the entire body of one or two stories, he merely nibbles at the ear of many. And again, what is with the bizarre epilogue?
April 6, 2011
merlynsprankling
Cinema Films

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Ein geheimnis (DE)
  • A Secret (Un Secret) (UK)
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