Secrets & Lies (1996)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Secrets & Lies</strong> (1996)

(On Cable TV, January 2019) Sometimes, it’s not a bad idea to let go of genre thrills and simply take in a story about ordinary people in dramatic circumstances. The Oscar-nominated Secrets & Lies is seldom a flashy film: it’s not about movie stars (even in the ensemble casting), but a solid working-class family drama about a child given up for adoption coming back in her mother’s life decades later. With a secret like that, you can expect some dramatic theatrics and the film certainly delivers that in its suspenseful third act. Still, much of the film’s best moments are found along the way, most notably during an intensely emotional seven-minute scene shot in a single take by director Mike Leigh. Timothy Spall and Marianne Jean-Baptiste are easy to like as the most well-adjusted characters in a dysfunctional family, but it’s Brenda Blethyn who gets the strongest role here, especially during the aforementioned one-shot scene. While a bit long at nearly two hours and a half (the ex-proprietor subplot seems notably less interesting), Secrets & Lies ends up far more interesting than expected, especially thanks to a third act in which the secrets and lies finally give way to the truth.

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