Secrets & Lies

Watch Secrets & Lies

  • R
  • 1996
  • 2 hr 22 min
  • 8.0  (45,763)
  • 91

Secrets & Lies is a 1996 British drama film that presents an intimate and emotional exploration of the relationship between a woman and her biological daughter, who was given up for adoption at birth. It was directed by Mike Leigh and won the Palme d'Or at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival, as well as various other awards and nominations.

The movie begins with Hortense Cumberbatch (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), a successful black optometrist, searching for her birth mother after the death of her adoptive parents. She tracks down Cynthia Purley (Brenda Blethyn), a working-class white woman who lives with her daughter Roxanne (Claire Rushbrook) in a modest house in London. Cynthia is initially stunned by the unexpected visit and hesitant to reveal her past, but eventually confesses that she gave her baby up for adoption when she was young and unmarried.

As mother and daughter, now in their thirties, try to connect and understand each other, they soon realize that their differences go beyond race and upbringing. Cynthia is a troubled woman who works as a cleaner and cares for her unstable brother Maurice (Timothy Spall), a photographer who has never gotten over a failed relationship. Roxanne is bitter and resentful towards her mother and the life she leads. Hortense, on the other hand, has a successful career and a stable relationship but is struggling with her identity and sense of belonging.

The characters' personal struggles and conflicts are gradually revealed through a series of conversations, encounters, and revelations that keep building tension and anticipation. The movie delves into themes of family, identity, social class, guilt, and forgiveness, with a raw and poignant realism that captures the complexities of human relationships.

The performances of the actors are remarkable, with Brenda Blethyn delivering a heartbreaking and nuanced portrayal of Cynthia's emotional turmoil and self-doubt. Marianne Jean-Baptiste is equally impressive as Hortense, conveying her character's intelligence, sensitivity, and vulnerability with subtlety and grace. Timothy Spall shines as Maurice, bringing depth and empathy to a role that could have easily been reduced to a caricature of a quirky artist.

The cinematography and soundtrack of Secrets & Lies also contribute to the film's immersive and evocative atmosphere. The camera work is unpretentious and intimate, capturing the characters' expressions, gestures, and environments in a way that feels natural and organic. The music, composed by Andrew Dickson, is minimalistic and soulful, matching the mood and tone of the story without overwhelming it.

Overall, Secrets & Lies is a masterful example of character-driven storytelling that touches the heart and the mind. It presents a nuanced and empathetic exploration of some of the most profound and universal aspects of the human experience, without resorting to melodrama or sentimentality. Mike Leigh's direction and the performances of the cast make it a memorable and rewarding cinematic experience that will stay with viewers long after the credits roll.

Secrets & Lies is a 1996 drama with a runtime of 2 hours and 22 minutes. It has received poor reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 8.0 and a MetaScore of 91.

Secrets & Lies
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 22 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    8.0  (45,763)
  • Metascore