8.0/10
37,778
163 user 58 critic

Secrets & Lies (1996)

Trailer
0:31 | Trailer
Following the death of her adoptive parents, a successful young black optometrist establishes contact with her biological mother -- a lonely white factory worker living in poverty in East London.

Director:

Mike Leigh

Writer:

Mike Leigh
Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 36 wins & 42 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Timothy Spall ... Maurice
Phyllis Logan ... Monica
Brenda Blethyn ... Cynthia
Claire Rushbrook ... Roxanne
Marianne Jean-Baptiste ... Hortense
Elizabeth Berrington ... Jane
Michele Austin ... Dionne
Lee Ross ... Paul
Lesley Manville ... Social Worker
Ron Cook ... Stuart
Emma Amos ... Girl with Scar
Brian Bovell Brian Bovell ... Hortense's Brother
Trevor Laird Trevor Laird ... Hortense's Brother
Clare Perkins Clare Perkins ... Hortense's Sister-in-Law
Elias Perkins McCook 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:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Features Marianne Jean-Baptiste's only Oscar nominated performance. 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

Maurice: Secrets and lies! We're all in pain! Why can't we share our pain? I've spent my entire life trying to make people happy, and the three people I love the most in the world hate each other's guts, and I'm in the middle! I can't take it anymore!
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Connections

Featured in Mike Leigh in Conversation (2008) 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 Roxanne's birthday party
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User Reviews

A great layering of memorable characters
30 October 1999 | by AnnyerismSee 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.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

UK | France

Language:

English | Greek

Release Date:

28 February 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Secrets & Lies See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$60,813, 29 September 1996

Gross USA:

$13,417,292

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$13,417,292
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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