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The Secret Laughter of Women (1999)

6.2
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 418 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 7 critic

A beautiful young single mother feels the pressure from the ex-pat Nigerian community to get married. Her precocious son has met his hero, a cynical English comic book writer and decides he... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Matthew Field
...
Nimi Da Silva
...
John
Joke Silva ...
Nene
...
Rev. Fola
Joy Elias-Rilwan ...
Mama Fola
...
Dr. Ade
Bella Enahoro ...
Madame Rosa
Fizzy Roberts ...
Sammy
...
Talking Drum
...
Jenny Field
Ellen Thomas ...
Bitter Leaf
Thomas Baptiste ...
Papa Fola
Willie Jonah ...
Old uncle
Ho Yi ...
Chen
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Storyline

A beautiful young single mother feels the pressure from the ex-pat Nigerian community to get married. Her precocious son has met his hero, a cynical English comic book writer and decides he is a match for his mum. The fall for each other but their love is tested by resistance from the community. Written by Anonymous

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Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

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Release Date:

26 November 1999 (UK)  »

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2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Matthew Field: [Sammy looks at a cute girl] Forget it. Bad sign, clog sandals. They're always followed by a father with a shotgun.
[an angry looking man walks past]
Matthew Field: See?
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User Reviews

 
Slightly sloppy, but it'll grow on you
9 June 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I wanted to love this movie. Everything seemed to be in place for an enjoyable, if not groundbreaking, film. It was set in southern France, good-looking and recognizable actors led the cast, and I really admired the vibrant African costumes, the proverbs and music. Despite all this, I didn't love it. Movies are supposed to convey their meaning at the first viewing, but "Secret Laughter" doesn't do that. Nimi and Matthew, as played by Long and Firth (both of whom have played romantic leads before and should have known better), radiate as much warmth and passion as dried fish. I used 'dried fish' deliberately, because it was one of a few - too few - strong lines and moments sprinkled throughout the film. Another winner was when Nimi catches Matthew snooping around her apartment. He finds a book of hers with her first name written on it and says: "Your name is Nimi. I never knew." Then he insists that she call him by his Christian name. I watched this scene intently as Matthew asked Nimi over and over to "say my name", realizing that up until that moment, they always called each other by their last names. I thought this was a turning point for the film, and expected that it get better. It didn't. Why do Nimi and Matthew always seem to stand at ten paces, even in that "say my name" scene? What does Matthew like about Nimi, aside from her obvious beauty? And why would a sensible woman like Nimi fall for a comic book writer who regards his marriage as something he can put on hold when a beautiful exotic 'adventure' comes along? And I'd like to add that it was a little hard for me to get behind a romance built on adultery. Yes, Jenny is a vicious harpy, but if I were in her shoes, but I'd probably match her Cruella tactics to stop my husband from straying. Believe it. The story hints at Nimi's painful past, but never fully explores it. Some critics say Firth seemed a little awkward here, and I agree. For goodness sake, the actor summoned more palpable longing and passion as that early 19th-century snob Mr. Darcy (and while wearing those hideous britches)! As for Long, who did shine in 'Love Jones', there were times when she seemed to concentrate more on her accent than playing her character. Even so, there were many moments – the 'say my name' scene among them – when she was in total control and came across really well. Yet, 'Secret Laughter' is not without its redeeming qualities, and I've found that it grew on me with more viewings. Nene was well portrayed as supportive and well-meaning, even if she doesn't fully understand Nimi's attraction to Matthew. I absolutely loved it when Nene faced off with Mama Fola in those dueling proverbs scenes. My husband liked it, and usually he's the first to sigh and throw insults at the screen if he doesn't like what is going on. He even chuckled at the scene when Sammy asked Matthew some very frank questions about sex. So there you have it. 'Secret Laughter' was good enough to entertain an avowed curmudgeon like my hubby, but an avid moviegoer like myself will need more than one viewing to appreciate what the director and writer were trying to convey.


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