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Secrets & Lies (1996)

 -  Drama  -  25 October 1996 (USA)
8.0
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 23,187 users   Metascore: 91/100
Reviews: 119 user | 58 critic | 27 from Metacritic.com

Successful black woman traces her birth mother to a lower-class white woman, who denies it; emotions run high as everyone's secrets are exposed.

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Title: Secrets & Lies (1996)

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Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 35 wins & 23 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Monica Purley
...
...
...
...
Jane
Michele Austin ...
Dionne
...
Paul
...
Social Worker
...
Stuart
Emma Amos ...
Girl with Scar
Brian Bovell ...
Hortense's Brother
Trevor Laird ...
Hortense's Brother
Clare Perkins ...
Hortense's Sister-in-Law
Elias Perkins McCook ...
Hortense's Nephew
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Storyline

Cynthia lives in London with her sullen street-sweeper daughter. Her brother has been successful with his photographer's business and now lives nearby in a more upmarket house. But Cynthia hasn't even been invited round there after a year. So, all round, she feels rather lonely and isolated. Meanwhile, in another part of town, Hortense, adopted at birth but now grown up, starts to try and trace her mother. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Roxanne drives her mother crazy. Maurice never speaks to his niece. Cynthia has a shock for her family. Monica can't talk to her husband. Hortense has never met her mother.

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

25 October 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Secrets & Lies  »

Box Office

Budget:

$4,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

JPY 8,507,150 (Japan) (20 December 1996)

Gross:

$13,417,292 (USA) (16 May 1997)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Mike Leigh and Brenda Blethyn were both born on February 20th. Mike is exactly 3 years older than her. See more »

Goofs

When Roxanne pushes Cynthia onto the bed, the shadow of a crew member's head is seen moving on the bed. See more »

Quotes

Cynthia Purley: Where's this food, then? I'm ravishin'.
[Hortense laughs]
Cynthia Purley: What?
[Hortense chuckles]
See more »

Connections

Featured in The 100 Greatest Films (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Happy Birthday to You
Words by Patty S. Hill & Mildred J. Hill (as Mildred Hill)
© Keith Prowse Music Pub Co. Ltd./EMI
Sung by the family at Hortense's birthday party
See more »

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User Reviews

A great layering of memorable characters
30 October 1999 | by (Orlando, Florida, USA) – See all my reviews

It took a second viewing of Mike Leigh's 'Secrets and Lies' to reveal the depth of its genius. I love character-driven drama, and this film succeeds in creating indelible portraits. Even the social worker is quirky and memorable instead of just furthering the plot and being patently sympathetic.

I could write quite a lot about Blethyn's riveting performance. How drained she must have been after sustaining a character who seems always at the height of emotional pressure. Opposite her, Jean-Baptiste seemed as cool and smooth as could be. The contrasts created by these personae even extended to costume and decor.

I decided to watch this movie again because after a BBC Shakespeare binge I wanted to see everything Ron Cook has been in. And while the Stuart scene is really somewhat incongruous to the rest of the family plot, Cook's scene as the bitter, drunk 't****r' works for me perfectly. So do the scenes of photo sessions -- and it's a matter of observing this film in terms of clarity of personal vision. The occupations of photographer and optometrist seem to lend metaphors of spirituality -- for Maurice, the ability to see people as they are, and for Hortense, the ability to understand how others see the world. The wall of smoke that Cynthia and Roxanne seem to keep in front of them. The disparity between the images created for the formal portraits and the truth of the personalities in them. In a distinctly un-sappy way, Leigh has explored the old adage that "the truth will set you free."

If one reads a paragraph describing the main plot -- the adopted child seeking out her birth mother -- a very clear idea of a movie-of-the-week story comes to mind. 'Secrets and Lies' is nothing like that, and shows a mastery of vision and a cast of great talent. My roommate agreed, saying he thought this was one of the best films he's seen this decade.


73 of 78 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Hortence's Father lps_darlo
Hortense's wardrobe cyweyman
Hortense is supposed to be mixed race??? markcody
How Could She Not Know Patty-76
Secrets and Lies is a poor film...worst film I've seen. willywonka-3
mike leigh, some critisisms rollingstone2001
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