7.3/10
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12 user 22 critic

Secret Defense (1998)

Secret défense (original title)
Sylvie, a 30-year-old scientist, has to dig deeper and deeper into her own background.

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(scenario), (scenario) | 3 more credits »
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1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Sylvie
...
Walser
...
Paul
...
Véronique / Ludivine
Françoise Fabian ...
Geneviève
Christine Vouilloz ...
Myriam
Mark Saporta ...
Jules
Sara Louis ...
Carole
Hermine Karagheuz ...
L'infirmière
Bernadette Giraud ...
Marthe
Micheline Herzog ...
Sabine
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Patrick Le Bouar ...
Robert
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Storyline

A young biologist (Sylvie) is thrown into confusion when her brother (Paul) tries to persuade her that their father, who fell off a train five years ago, was actually killed by his right hand man (Walser). Walser now runs their father's company. Sylvie is not convinced, but Paul has decided to have his revenge. Written by Thierry Rubis <thb@Yours.com>

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family relationships | See All (1) »

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Crime | Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

18 March 1998 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Confidencial  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Connections

Features Brigands-Chapter VII (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

Di perra mora
Music by Pedro Guerrero
Performed by Hespèrion Xx (as Hesperion XX)
Conducted by Jordi Savall
(P) Auvidis-France
extrait de "El cancionero de Medinaceli"
(CD Auvidis-Fontalis E 8764)
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User Reviews

 
Sandrine Bonnaire's father's death was no accident, and she wants to know what happened
18 May 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Secret Defense" is a neo-noir with a mystery at its core. It is not a conventional thriller. A comparable noir story would be "All My Sons" (1948). Although these two stories are not the same at all in details, their core element is the same, namely, a defense contractor who has done something morally wrong in the past. The title, which means defense secret might lead you to think this is about defense secrets and that the movie is a thriller along those lines. No, it is not, not at all. Just as "All My Sons" focused on the effects of the wrong on family, so does "Secret Defense".

This movie is rich in themes and characterizations. Also, it is infused with a particular view of its characters. Certainly, the cinematography is excellent. The acting burden on Ms. Bonnaire was very heavy, but she carried it off extremely well. The entire cast can be proud of their work. The director's (Jacques Rivette) film ideas are very much present and distinctive, and they are fused with the movie's themes and view of the characters.

Themes include material ambition, hiding the truth, over-protectiveness, impulsiveness, isolation of people, guilt, communication failure, misperception, jealousy, and resort to violence.

The past weighs very heavily on the present in this story. Bonnaire plays Sylvie. The story begins when her brother Paul (Gregoire Colin) comes into a photograph that strongly suggests their father didn't die accidentally 5 years earlier, and that the man who killed him was Walser (Jerzy Radziwilowicz). Paul is determined to kill Walser. Sylvie, the older of the two, wants strongly to prevent this. The story will eventually involve their mother and their sister Elizabeth, a suicide from 5 years earlier. It will involve Walser's secretary (Laure Marsac) and her sister.

There is a lengthy sequence in which Sylvie travels to Walser's Estate that lasts about 20 minutes, start to finish. It is the exploration of Sylvie's emotions during this sequence that justifies this length. This actually distinguishes and elevates the film above conventional thriller status. Similarly, the story takes its time when Sylvie stays at the Estate for several days. The director has taken the risk of showing the emotional states of its main characters as human beings, not as movie-creations, even though we are watching a movie. In doing this, he has succeeded in separating this movie from the herd.


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