Secrets and Lies (1996)

SECRETS AND LIES, the bleak-but-frequently-funny British drama that 
won top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, is about a young woman 
(Marianne Jean-Baptiste) who meets her birth mum (Brenda Blethyn) 
and forever changes the lives of that family, including the other 
daughter, brother, and sister-in-law.  More gut-wrenching than the 
rest of the year's crop, Mike Leigh's movie is not a tearjerker in 
the traditional sense.  We feel the anguish of these characters all 
along and, by the end, it's *other* emotions that present them-
selves.  Such as joy, that these pains are not ours, and relief, 
that these suffering characters can finally unburden themselves.  
The title implies a Big Revelation and there is more than one, 
though you can see that train coming a mile off.  Ms. Blethyn's 
exhaustive performance also won an award at Cannes and she probably 
has the Best Actress Oscar already sewn up. (Rated "R"/141 min.)

Grade: A-

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: November 17, 1996

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