Secrets and Lies

Secrets and Lies

classified 15

Working Class Heroes: British Working Class on Film


Please note: This was screened in Oct 2018

Mike Leigh
Timothy Spall, Brenda Blethyn, Phyllis Logan
136 mins, 1996, UK
Primary language

Mike Leigh scooped the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1996 as well as a resounding box-office hit with this bittersweet snoop into the nooks and crannies of working class family life, in this hilarious and touching suburban comedy.

When Hortense (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), a successful black optician learns she is adopted she goes in search of her birth mother. She turns out to be Cynthia (Brenda Blethyn) a working class white woman, who is estranged from her brother Maurice (Timothy Spall) and struggling to connect with her teenage daughter. But as the reunited Cynthia and Hortense’s friendship starts to blossom, Cynthia’s already tense relationship with her family becomes even more complicated as revelations emerge during one uncomfortable family gathering.

At Cannes, Leigh said his award was “encouraging for those of us who are trying to make films about people, relationships, real life, love, passion, caring and all the things that matter.” His finely observed, hilarious and deeply felt film does exactly that and remains a work of extraordinary emotional richness.