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Secrets And Lies Criterion Blu-ray Review

“Secrets And Lies” is among Mike Leigh’s best work.

As the title of this 1996 film suggests, the story is indeed about secrets and lies that revolve around a broken family comprised of Maurice (a married photographer), his wife Monica (who struggles with not being able to have a child unbeknownst to anyone outside of Maurice), Maurice’s lonely and high strung factory worker sister Cynthia, and Cynthia’s 21 year old daughter Roxanne. As the story unfolds, we learn that a black optometrist (Hortense) is looking to find her birth mother who just happens to be Cynthia (a white woman). Can this family find some peace and connect or will their secrets further divide them?

Written and directed by renowned British filmmaker Mike Leigh, “Secrets And Lies” is an intense family drama that tackles so many subjects. It’s a deeply involving story about communication, the truth setting us free, the pain of keeping secrets, and adopted children. Under less capable hands, this could have very well been a heavy handed drama but it never once feels that way under Mike Leigh. Not only does he have a firm grasp on the story he is telling, but he’s created such an emotional human story. At times it feels like you’re watching a documentary because Leigh gives the audience a sort of fly on the wall view of the family. With this approach, you really root for the family and want things to work out for them. 

As good as Leigh’s work is, the cast really sells it. Timothy Spall has become an acting legend and he’s once again fantastic as Maurice. His cathartic breakdown scene during the birthday party was really quite extraordinary. Marianna Jean-Baptiste (who received an Oscar nom for her work here) gives a very quiet, sweet and moving performance. Her mannerisms say so much about the character even when she never says a word. Brenda Blethyn gets all the praise for her performance as Cynthia (also Oscar nominated) and while there’s no denying she creates quite the character, it does feel like a little too much at times. She’s overly hysterical even if that’s the character that is written on the page. Lesley Manville, Phyllis Logan, and Claire Rushbrook are also superb in their respective roles as well.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.85:1 1080p. How does it look? The 2K digital restoration provides a nice new upgrade. It is a little fuzzy in spots but it’s not an issue.

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? An all-around crisp 2.0 track.


Extras:
* A booklet with credits, photos and an essay by curator/author Ashley Clark.
* “Secrets And Lies” trailer
* A new remote interview between critic Corrina Antrobus and actor Marianne Jean-Baptiste.
* A 1996 audio conversation between Mike Leigh and film critic Michel Ciment.
* A new remote interview between Mike Leugh and composer Gary Yershoni

March 24, 2021 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , ,

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