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?
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.