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SECRETS AND LIES

UK, 1996 (MIFF 1996, Contemporary World Cinema )

Director: Mike Leigh

On one of those rare occasions when the Cannes jury gets it right, the inimitable Mike Leigh garnered this year's Palme d'Or (Best Film), the International Critics Prize and the Best Actress Award (Brenda Blethyn) topping the success of Naked( 1993).

After the death of her adoptive mother, Hortense, an educated young black woman sets out to track down her natural mother .To her surprise she discovers her parent, Cynthia, is an unmarried white woman who lives unhappily with her acknowledged daughter Roxanne. Over­coming their initial uncertainty, they begin to develop a warm relationship, however things go awry when Cynthia tries to introduce Hortense into the troubled world of her own family.

Here Leigh extends his now familiar interest in dissecting families, relationships, work and the emotional machinery that makes us tick. Raw nerves are painfully exposed, silences unbearably uncomfortable, pretentions explod­ed: but unlike the dark and desperate tone of Naked, Secrets and Lies' final reconciliatory moments suggest that everyone involved will be better for the experience.

The poignancy and acuity of Leigh's observations and the cast's remarkable ensemble work reach a level of emotional recognition other films could only dream about.

In Cannes, Leigh accepted the Palme d'Or 'In the name of all independent spirits who make films about real people, real life and all the things that really matter" As usual, he got it right. (TB)

See also...

MEANTIME

UK, 1983
Though beautifully made and acted, "Meantime" is definitely I minority-audience film. It concerns an East End family Husband, wife, two grown sons, Mark a cynic, and Colin, a bit simple-minded. The t… More »

SEACOAL

UK, 1985
Lying somewhere between the naturalism of Mike Leigh and the working class concerns of Ken Loach, Seacoal, a unique collaborative project, is an astonishing doco-drama that demolishes the lines betwe… More »

The Short and Curlies

UK, 1987
In between serving cough pastels and contraceptives at the chemist's, Joy dreams of the perfect man. Over at the hairdresser's, Betty has the same pre occupation for herself and her daughter Charlene ... More »

HIGH HOPES

UK, 1988
... ... Mike Leigh's latest film is his first made directly for cinema release in 17 years and a fitting culmination to the retrospective of his films screening through the festival. ... The most sop… More »

BLEAK MOMENTS

UK, 1971
Adapted from his 1970 stage production, Bleak Moments not only represents Mike Leigh's feature film debut but also establishes the characteristic method of mood of his output, a stylistic signature w… More »

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