Secrets & Lies Mike Leigh

When most people hear of Mike Leigh's breakthrough Secrets & Lies, they tend to focus on the story of a successful black woman who tracks down her birth mother only to find out the woman who gave her up for adoption is lower-class and white. Though that certainly is a large chunk of this incredible drama, the actual meeting of the mother and daughter doesn't take place until well past the hour mark, giving far more focus on developing its complex and captivating characters through eavesdropping into their very private lives. The build up of their emotional history and current state of despair draws you in, making for some incredibly heartbreaking moments but also uplifting resolve, which is what writer/director Mike Leigh has done so well throughout his impressive filmmaking career. Hortense (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) is a lovely black woman who has made a good life for herself as an optometrist, but after her adopted mother suddenly passes away she decides it's time to track down her true mum, and is shocked to learn she's white. When Hortense finally gets around to contacting the overly fragile Cynthia (Brenda Bleythn) via telephone and lets her know that she is her long-lost daughter, the stunned recipient is sent into a panic, begs for Hortense to never call her again and hangs up. The two eventually do meet in one of the most powerful scenes, shot in a single edit that will have you absolutely hypnotised by the performances, and soon Cynthia accepts her black daughter, but that's not the last secret. Again, there is so much more to Secrets & Lies than the main hook, including lengthy scenes with Cynthia's brother Morris (the incredible Timothy Spall) and his uptight wife, which have absolutely nothing to do with the plot but gives such insight into the lives that you can't help but get emotionally wrapped up. The DVD has absolutely zero features, unless you count the theatrical trailer. How can one of the best films of the past ten years — a film that was nominated for five Academy Awards— get such a dismal release? It's insulting and utterly depressing that such a brilliant film gets an overlooked digital treatment, especially when horrid films get two-disc special editions. (Fox)