Secrets & Lies (1997) - Rotten Tomatoes

Secrets & Lies (1997)

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Movie Info

It is an irony of family life that much of its fabric is held together with the tenuous stitches of every day lies. When suddenly revealed, such small seemingly innocent deceits can cause tears that are difficult to repair. As with other Mike Leigh films, this drama offer a darkly serio-comic look into the dysfunctional lives of average people. Following her adoptive mother's death, Hortense, a successful, black London optometrist, visits a social worker in hopes of finding her biological mother. White single mother Cynthia lives in a decaying part of town. She and her daughter Roxanne have a love-hate relationship and constantly argue. Cynthia's younger brother Maurice, a successful photographer, lives on a better side of town. He is married to the obsessive-compulsive, emotionally distant but abusive Monica. One day, Maurice pays a long overdue visit to Cynthia and offers to host Roxanne's 21st birthday party at his home. Soon afterward Hortense shows up claiming that Cynthia is her birth mother. Cynthia is terrified to see this sudden reminder of her past and matters are not helped when Hortense says exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time. Despite their initial difficulty, the two women's curiosity overcomes their fears and they decide to meet at an empty tearoom. There they become friends and come to a sort of peace, one that threatens the entire family when Cynthia invites Hortense to Roxanne's party. Mike Leigh's first film in since 1993, Secrets and Lies was nominated for several Oscars and earned the Golden Palm award at Cannes in 1996.
  • Rating:
    R (for language)
  • Genre:
  • Directed By:
  • Written By:
  • In Theaters:
     wide
  • On DVD:
  • Runtime:
  • Studio:
    Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

Cast

Ron Cook
as Stuart
Lesley Manville
as Social Worker
Brian Bovell
as Hortense's Brother
Emma Amos
as Girl with Scar
Brian Boyell
as Hortense's Brother
Trevor Laird
as Hortense's Brother
Clare Perkins
as Hortense's Sister-in-Law
Elias Perkins McCook
as Hortense's Nephew
June Mitchell
as Senior Optometrist
Janice Acquah
as Junior Optician
Keeley Flanders
as Girl in Optician's
Hannah Davis
as First Bride
Terence Harvey
as First Bride's Father
Kate O'Malley
as Second Bride
Grant Master
as Best Man
Annie Hayes
as Mother in Family Group
Jean Ainslie
as Grandmother
Daniel Smith
as Teenage Son
Frances Ruffelle
as Young Mother
Nitin Chandra Ganatra
as Potential Husband
Metin Marlow
as Conjuror
Amanda Crossley
as Raunchy Woman
Su Eliot
as Raunchy Woman
Di Sherlock
as Raunchy Woman
Alex Squires
as Triplet
Sade Squires
as Triplet
Dominic Curran
as Little Boy
Stephen Churchett
as Man in Suit
David Neilson
as Man in Suit
Peter Stockbridge
as Man in Suit
Peter Waddington
as Man in Suit
Rachel Lewis
as Graduate
Paul Trussell
as Grinning Husband
Denise Orita
as Uneasy Woman
Margery Withers
as Elderly Lady
Gordon Winter
as Laughing Man
Peter Wight
as Father in Family Group
Alison Steadman
as Dog Owner
Liz Smith
as Cat owner
Sheila Kelley
as Fertile Mother
Angela Curran
as Little Boy's Mother
Linda Beckett
as Pinup Housewife
Philip Davis
as Man in Suit
Ruth Sheen
as Laughing Woman
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Critic Reviews for Secrets & Lies

All Critics (36) | Top Critics (8)

Leigh's best work yet is indisputably screen art, but it's a flesh-and-blood 'people' movie, too.

January 1, 2000
USA Today
Top Critic

In the hands of another director, it would have been a sentimental melodrama, a soap opera, but with nuanced writing and sharp helming, Mike Leigh mixes humor and pathos in equal measure.

Full Review… | March 18, 2011
EmanuelLevy.Com

Much more than just a touching story of the ties that bind humanity and the way we reveal ourselves, "Secrets and Lies" (1996) is a staggering work of cinematic genius. It is truly a perfect film.

Full Review… | September 2, 2009
ColeSmithey.com

It's hard to argue against it being a sharply observant and deeply felt melodrama, one that is accessible, contemporary and frightingly realistic.

Full Review… | May 7, 2006
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Leigh's script and direction pushes all the right emotional buttons without getting overly melodramatic.

Full Review… | September 14, 2005
TheMovieReport.com

Leigh's film stops short of catharsis, providing the potential for the characters' rebuilding of their relationships without suggesting that such projects are simple or immediate.

Full Review… | March 1, 2005
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

Audience Reviews for Secrets & Lies

½

Working-class meats lower-class. Funny and heart warming.

Saskia D.
Saskia D.

Super Reviewer

½

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 Lats
Red Lats

Super Reviewer

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.

Pierluigi Puccini
Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer

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