Secrets & Lies (1996)
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- 136 min.
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The highest level of emotional maturity one can achieve as a human being and, hence, as a film director. 10/10
timothy spall is absolutely astonishing
Secrets & Lies is a riveting drama that doesn't feel half as long as it really is, filled with great actors (most of whom are probably more recognizable now than they were then), featuring a heady mix of humor and tearjerking... and all the more impressive when you consider that director Mike Leigh works without a script. I think this kind of process is entirely fascinating. Actors are told only what their characters would know, and left to craft those characters as they see fit. Then they're thrown together in scenes to improvise. In a film about family secrets, this allows for raw reactions to embedded revelations. It's a high-wire act, and it seems almost impossible that Leigh and his cast manage to walk it so ably. In addition to the main thread of an adopted woman seeking out her birth mother and in the process finding out she's actually of mixed race, we also have the mother's brother reconnecting with her after some family strife, his growing estrangement to his wife, and hers to her other daughter. It's all about reconnecting, and having to break down walls to do so, and it all feels very real and unvarnished. Great stuff.
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In 14 official lists
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This movie ranks #35 in Time Out's The 100 Best British Films
This movie ranks #40 in BFI's Top 100 British Films
This movie ranks #42 in Arts & Faith's Top 100 Films
This movie ranks #68 in Cannes Film Festival - Palme d'Or
This movie ranks #287 in Empire's The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time
This movie ranks #341 in Roger Ebert's Great Movies
This movie ranks #407 in Academy Award - Best Picture Nominees
This movie ranks #523 in Sight & Sound's The Greatest Films of All Time
This movie ranks #571 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films
This movie ranks #655 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown
This movie ranks #755 in The New York Times's Book of Movies
This movie ranks #811 in Time Out's 1000 Films to Change Your Life
This movie ranks #902 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #1285 in The Criterion Collection