Best Movies by Farr
Secrets and Lies Poster
Released Runtime Category
1996 142 Drama
Director Language
Mike Leigh English
Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Brenda Blethyn, Claire Rishbrook, Timothy Spall

Secrets and Lies

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What's it About

After the death of her adoptive parents, soft-spoken West Indian optometrist Hortense (Jean-Baptiste) sets out to find her birth mother, whom she's surprised to learn is a white woman named Cynthia Purley (Blethyn). It turns out Cynthia is a sad-sack factory worker with an embittered, street-sweeper daughter (Rishbrook). After meeting for tea, the two eventually develop a close bond. Eventually, Hortense is able to guide Cynthia towards reconciliation with her estranged family.

Why we love it

Leigh's bittersweet family drama "Secrets and Lies" showcases the superb acting talents of British veteran Blethyn, who picked up a Best Actress nomination for her (mostly improvised) work alongside co-star Jean-Baptiste. Leigh's long, static shots — especially of the first confused meeting between Cynthia and Hortense at a London teashop — somehow give you the sense you've known these characters for years. Kudos also to Timothy Spall, playing the bearish brother Cynthia longs to reconnect with. For an emotionally enriching film which deals intelligently with class, race, and family conflict, check out "Secrets and Lies."

BEST MOVIES BY FARR is your personal guide to great movies to rent, stream, or buy; to watch at home or on-the-go. Led by film advocate John Farr, the Best Movies by Farr team works as a "quality filter" for the discerning moviegoer. Every day, we bring you the best of the best, the fantastic familiar films and hidden gems, to answer that age-old question: "What should we watch tonight?"