Secrets & Lies

Critics Consensus

Secrets & Lies delves into social issues with delicate aplomb and across-the-board incredible acting, and stands as one of writer-director Mike Leigh's most powerful works.

95%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 37

91%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 11,291
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Movie Info

After her adoptive mother dies, Hortense (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), a successful black eye doctor, seeks out her birth mother. She's shocked when her research leads her to a lower-class white woman, Cynthia (Brenda Blethyn). At first Cynthia denies the claim, but she eventually admits to birthing Hortense as a teenager, and the two begin to bond. However, when Cynthia invites Hortense to a family barbecue, Cynthia's already tense relationship with her family becomes even more complicated.

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News & Interviews for Secrets & Lies

Critic Reviews for Secrets & Lies

All Critics (37) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (35) | Rotten (2)

Audience Reviews for Secrets & Lies

  • Mar 15, 2018
    Mike Leigh's steady direction is really impressive, and he creates a largely improvised family drama that surprises us with many nuances and for being so engaging, relying especially on two outstanding Oscar-nominated performances by Brenda Blethyn and Marianne Jean-Baptiste.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 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.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 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.
    Diego T Super Reviewer
  • May 09, 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.
    Red L Super Reviewer

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