"Secrets and Lies" Review

Essay by crimsonbutterflyHigh School, 11th gradeA+, March 2006

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"Secrets and Lies" (142 min)

Directed by Mike Leigh

Starring; Brenda Blethyn, Claire Rushbrook, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Phyllis Logan, Timothy Spall

If ever there were doubts that the sabotage of a nuclear family unit would be diluted when brought to screen, let them be dispelled now. Enter the 21st century, of which is trademarked by the social realism of the domestic scene. Welcome to the lives of a dysfunctional family whence the dark undertones of tension are painted in their fractured relationships and lives of dissatisfaction, superbly executed in Leigh's confronting exposure to the rawness of each character. Summed up succinctly in the title, 'Secrets and Lies' accurately endorses the essence of dishonesty and façade faced by a family struggling to resolve their issues. It is with the process of changing self do their lives advance from such emotional standstill to embrace its rewards. This is one of the key themes of this film.

Opening up in the comfortable familiarity of middle class London, we view the life of a young black woman named Hortense (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) who decides to track down her biological mother following the death of her foster mother. Provided with her birth certificate, she discovers her real mother is called Cynthia (Brenda Blethyn), a single white woman living a poor neighborhood. Cynthia lives a dull life trapped by her feelings of inadequacy and poor communication. It is not until her resurrection with Hortense does Cynthia recover a sense of legitimacy and maternal pride, and she tries to renew her strained relations with those she loves the most, particularly her daughter Roxanne (Claire Rushbrook) and brother Maurice (Timothy Spall).

Even at the very beginning of the film, the audience is prone to sense the awkward nature of relationships between the characters,