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)