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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

The restaurant where Cynthia and Hortense meet for lunch is "Pasta Plus Restaurant", a family-run Italian restaurant on 62 Eversholt Street, Camden, London. The restaurant is still open to the public (Monday to Saturday) and is very close to Euston station. 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 Rose Purley: You gotta laugh, ain't ya sweetheart? Else you'd cry.
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Connections

Referenced in Spice World (1997) 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

 
Top 5 Film Class Movies: FILM #5
25 July 2005 | by jmille42See all my reviews

In honor of my film class wrapping up this week, I will be counting down my top five favorite films we have watched for class. I begin with my #5 choice, Secrets and Lies, a Mike Leigh drama/comedy about the secrets and lies (shock) that tear apart a dysfunctional British family. Brenda Blethyn plays Cynthia Purley, the very dramatic and always crying single mother who is one day contacted by the daughter she gave up for adoption…who happens to be black. The look on Blethyn's face is priceless as she flashes back to a one night stand she had as a young lady.

Most would think Leigh's story would revolve around race relations, which is not the case at all (race is never an issue). Instead he revolves his story around the Purley family, a unit so torn apart from over the years that a simple family cook out turns into a soap opera. "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!" This memorable quote comes from Maurice Purley, brother to Cynthia and talented photographer. Maurice is your classic good guy, the passive patriarch who always tries to hold the family together. (The irony around his character is that he cannot conceive a child with his wife, Monica). You almost feel sorry for the successful Hortense, as if she would be better off not knowing her birth mother at all.

The actors are so talented in this film that Leigh, at times, uses no cuts during a scene. The camera stays in one spot as the actors' play out scenes that can last 10-15 minutes. After you get past the difficult British dialect (you may want to use captions while watching), you will feel as if you are that nosey neighbor who can't help but listen and enjoy the problems this family confronts…and that's no lie.


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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 SR

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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