6.9/10
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A Secret (2007)

Un secret (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, War | 3 October 2007 (France)
A 15-year-old boy unearths a shocking family secret.

Director:

Writers:

(scenario, adaptation and dialogue), (scenario, adaptation and dialogue) | 1 more credit »

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4 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Tania Stirn / Grimbert
...
Maxime Nathan Grinberg / Grimbert
...
Hannah Golda Stirn / Grinberg
...
Louise
...
François Grimbert à 37 ans
Nathalie Boutefeu ...
Esther
Yves Verhoeven ...
Georges
...
Commandant Béraud
Sam Garbarski ...
Joseph
Orlando Nicoletti ...
Simon Grinberg à 7 ans
...
Robert Stirn
Valentin Vigourt ...
François Grimbert à 7 ans
Quentin Dubuis ...
François Grimbert à 14 ans
Chantal Banlier ...
Maria
Myriam Fuks ...
Mère Hannah
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Storyline

In 1953, a sensitive French boy finds out from a neighbor that his family's Jewish. François Grimbert becomes a physician, and gradually peels the layers of his buried family history which resulted in his difficult upbringing, raised as Catholic by his "Aryan" appearing parents. His athletic father labored to stamp out stereotypical Jewish characteristics he perceived in his son, to keep the family's many secrets, as most relatives fought in World War II, and later were hauled off to labor and death camps by the Gestapo. Based on a true story. Written by David Stevens

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

3 October 2007 (France)  »

Also Known As:

A Secret  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$37,135 (USA) (7 September 2008)

Gross:

$623,415 (USA) (3 May 2009)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

|

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Eva Green was considered for the role of Tania and Pascal Elbé for the role of Maxime See more »

Connections

References La Grande Illusion (1937) See more »

Soundtracks

Maréchal nous voilà!
Music by Andre Montagnard
Lyrics by Andre Montagnard and Charles Courtioux
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User Reviews

 
Intimate World War II era French family drama
25 December 2016 | by (Boulder, CO) – See all my reviews

This is the story of a French Jewish family that spans the years from the mid-1930s to the mid-1980s. The opening scenes, taking place in 1955, introduce us to two of the principal characters, Francois at age 7 and his mother Tania. Francois is seen as shy, skinny, and nonathletic, which is a contrast with his mother's being, strong, beautiful and an accomplished swimmer. Soon the scene shifts to 1985 where Francois is dealing with a shy son of his own. There is an unexpectedly touching scene where Francois' son tenderly grasps his father's arm while seated next to him at a table. The 1985 scenes are filmed in black and white and that helps in keeping the time frames straight, since there are many time shifts. In movies that jump around in time I always wonder what the effect would have been to present the story in a linear way. But, since we are kept in the dark about the secret referenced in the title, the plot device of jumping back and forth in time is a logical plot device and it required my attention.

In 1955 we are introduced to Francois' father Maxime and Louise (a close family friend). Maxime is a handsome, athletic guy and that advances the theme of Francois' being mismatched in physical ability to Maxime and Tania. Francois feels that he is a disappointment to his dad. As portrayed, Maxime was in fact disappointed with Francois; a big reason why is revealed in the flashbacks to the 1930s.

Early on in the 1930s Maxime is seen wanting to deny his Jewishness. It was not clear to me if he could see what was coming down the pike with the Nazis or whether his denial was coming from some more philosophical, intellectual, or intuitive basis. In one voice-over Francois comments, "Playing sports made dad hope he could erase his origins." In any case, how the characters relate to their Jewishness is at the very heart of the story.

There is no end of stories that have come out of the Second World War, even some sixty years later. This movie is one of the better ones that concentrates on a single family's experiences rather than staging big battle scenes. The movie is based on the book, "Memory: A Novel," by Philippe Grimbert; we are told at the beginning that the story and its main characters are based on true events. I found the movie more engaging knowing that.

The acting by all concerned is first rate, as is the filming. The unobtrusive score by Zbigniew Preisner is effective.

I found the time sequencing, together with the large number of characters, made a first viewing challenging, particularly with having to read the English subtitles. A second viewing was rewarding.


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