Secrets & Lies (1996)

With both her adoptive parents now dead, a Black optometrist decides to make contact with her white working-class birth mother.


The highest level of emotional maturity one can achieve as a human being and, hence, as a film director. 10/10

9 years ago


timothy spall is absolutely astonishing

10 years ago


Secrets & Lies is a riveting drama that doesn't feel half as long as it really is, filled with great actors (most of whom are probably more recognizable now than they were then), featuring a heady mix of humor and tearjerking… and all the more impressive when you consider that director Mike Leigh works without a script. I think this kind of process is entirely fascinating. Actors are told only what their characters would know, and left to craft those characters as they see fit. Then they're thrown together in scenes to improvise. In a film about family secrets, this allows for raw reactions to embedded revelations. It's a high-wire act, and it seems almost impossible that Leigh and his cast manage to walk it so ably. In addition to the main thread of an adopted woman seeking out her birth mother and in the process finding out she's actually of mixed race, we also have the mother's brother reconnecting with her after some family strife, his growing estrangement to his wife, and hers to her other daughter. It's all about reconnecting, and having to break down walls to do so, and it all feels very real and unvarnished. Great stuff.

3 years ago

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