Secrets & Lies

Tucson Weekly

DIRECTED BY: Mike Leigh

REVIEWED: 11-07-96

With Secrets and Lies, acclaimed British director Mike Leigh turns in gentler, more human effort than his previous film, Naked. An extended family muddles through issues of love and parenthood, spurred by Hortense (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), a grown, adopted child searching for her birthmother Cynthia (Brenda Blethyn). To Hortense's surprise, her mother turns out to be white, but the friendship that springs up between these two women quickly cuts through any racial boundaries. Leigh's view of humanity is characteristically surly, nonetheless, and the relationship between Cynthia and her daughter Roxanne (Claire Rushbrook), a street sweeper, is hilariously bleak. Somehow, Leigh has a talent for making human failings seem viciously funny and absurd, and the most miserable characters in this film often turn out to be the most entertaining. Still, there's a spirit of connection and society reminiscent of Jean Renoir in this film (Timothy Spall as the rotund Maurice bears a striking resemblance to Renoir as Octave in Rules of the Game), and everyone emerges a little wiser for their troubles.

--Stacey Richter

Other Films by Mike Leigh
Career Girls

Film Vault Suggested Links
Now and Then
A Day in Black and White
The Trial

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