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Secret défense (1998)

Sylvie, a 30-year-old scientist, has to dig deeper and deeper into her own background.


Jacques Rivette


Pascal Bonitzer (scenario), Emmanuelle Cuau (scenario) | 3 more credits »

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1 nomination. See more awards »


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


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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Plot Keywords:

family relationships | See All (1) »


Crime | Drama


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Release Date:

1 October 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Confidencial See more »

Filming Locations:

Chagny, Saône-et-Loire, France See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Features Brigands-Chapter VII (1996) See more »


Diferencias sobre las Vacas
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)
See more »

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User Reviews

17 July 2005 | by tedgSee all my reviews

You know a movie is a great movie not when it is quoted. Many are. It is great when following filmmakers assume it as part of the world and reinvent it the same way they do to experiences in "real" life. I'm not as wild about Hitchcock's complete work as others, but "Vertigo" and another of his films are among the most important and surely on any short list from Hollywood.

I've had the pleasure of screening "Vertigo" together with two of its most interesting children.

First, you know the story in Vertigo, about a play within the play that is a more like a play within life. The way it is constructed (except for that dumb camera trick that everyone fawns over) emphasizes manifold details about illusion and the illusion of film-making.

But the thing is abstracted from life, as all normal movies must be. We know from thousands of conventions when watching that it is a staging of life, not life.

There's one scene in Vertigo, where our hero discovers his love in a restaurant. There's a change in color and mood. Peter Greenway took this one scene and layered a whole new film reality on "Vertigo." It is as abstracted from the world of Vertigo as Vertigo is from life.

In Greenaway's "Cook, Thief, Lover," the world is indeed bifurcated into the "kitchen" where things are created and the "serving room." Moving from one to the other changes colors in accord with Vertigo. "Cook, Thief" deals with the same issues as Vertigo but with more abstraction: books, love and watching movies as literally eating people.

Now we have this, which moves to the other side. It attempts to deal with all the issues and methods of "Vertigo" but by deabstracting into the real world. In the real world, events do not arrange themselves for theatrical convenience. If we need a character to go from the city to the country to do a killing, it takes some time.

Accidents occur. Some motives never become clear. When a murdered girl's twin shows up and takes the place of her sister in the bed of a conspiratorial man with an officially secret life, we expect plot turns and surprises. They never come. This is life embossed with a movie.

That is, until the very, very last scene. This is extremely stylized as if to gently bring us back to the movie world we thought we were entering at the beginning.

There are few French filmmakers of any era worth following. This is one.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.

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