Sunday, May 8, 2016

908. Secrets and Lies

Secrets and Lies
Directed by Mike Leigh

After quite a few lackluster movies, we finally get to something good.  A lot of people seem to fall in love with this film the first time they see it.  While I am not ready to use the L-word yet, I can definitely appreciate the appeal.

Hortense is a black London optometrist who decides to track down her birth parents, having been adopted as a baby.  She discovers that her birth mother, Cynthia (played by Brenda Blethyn, who will always be Mrs. Bennet to me) is a neurotic, working class white woman.  Cynthia's family is already fairly dysfunctional.  Her brother, Maurice, and his wife, Monica, are facing marital problems.  Also, Monica seems to have chronic menstrual cramps which would suck beyond words.  Let's all observe a moment of silence for her.

There's not much to dislike about this one.  There is obviously a fantastic cast and they are given a fascinating premise to work with.  The members of the family are flawed and obnoxious enough to remind us all of our own wacky extended families.   Of course, this also means that the characters quickly got on my nerves and I wished I could just hide in the kitchen like I usually do during family gatherings.

This is the only Mike Leigh film in the Book, but I would interested to check out some of his other work.  Anyone have any suggestions?

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Brenda Blethyn had never met before they filmed their first scene together. Blethyn did not know that Jean-Baptiste was black, as Mike Leigh wanted a genuine reaction.


  1. Mike leigh rocks.. I really don't think you can go wrong with almost anything of his. Well, I was not over keen on 'Naked', which I felt invited us to be overly sympathetic for a ..well, a thuggish bully. Whilst I realise the point was to explain, not excuse, I did feel we were invited to say 'not his fault' a bit too much.
    'Happy go lucky' is an odd ball.. Leigh is usually lots of doom and gloom with a heart in there .. HGL is about an irrepressibly irritatingly always outwardly happy person. She is contrasted with a very dire driving instructor with well dodgy political outlook.. If you watch it, I'd be interested to discuss that one.
    High hopes is highly political, and is mostly great, but as one of his early ones it perhaps shows Leigh's only real weakness.. a slightly sledgehammer political approach with the middle classes portrayed as so ridiculously OTT buffoonish, and working class as utter saints... But it was made in an era of highly intense political polarisation, so point taken.
    Topsy Turvey will depend how you feel about G&S, but even if, like me, more than a bit so-so about it, it rattles along with great characterisation and people you come to care about.
    But this is probably his best ...

  2. PS, I forgot to mention Abigail's party! Fantastic. Hugely funny

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  4. Okay I think I will check out Happy Go Lucky. I'll let you know what I think!

  5. Great .. but please don't take that I forgot, 'till the PS' Abigail's Party as any downer .. It's fantastic.