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3,263 Ratings

Secrets & Lies

Directed by Mike Leigh
United Kingdom, France, 1996
Drama, Comedy


Following her adoptive mother’s death, Hortense, a successful, black London optometrist, traces her biological mother to lower-class white single mother Cynthia, who denies it. Cynthia and her daughter Roxanne have a love-hate relationship. Emotions run high as everyone’s secrets are exposed.

Our take

Acclaimed British director Mike Leigh won the Palme d’Or for this gorgeous drama that insightfully explores the complicated grievances, pain, and resentment that can linger on within a family. Featuring exceptional performances from Brenda Blethyn and Marianne Jean-Baptiste.

Secrets & Lies Directed by Mike Leigh

Awards & Festivals

Cannes Film Festival

1996 | 3 wins including: Palme d'Or

Academy Awards

1997 | 5 nominations including: Best Picture

Independent Spirit Awards

1997 | Winner: Best Foreign Film

Critics reviews

I’ve seen Secrets and Lies three times since it premiered at Cannes in May, and each time the movie’s apparent rough patches have seemed smoother — clear evidence that writer-director Mike Leigh knows exactly what he’s doing and why. But whether his knowledge and a viewer’s recognition of it make this comedy-drama a masterpiece is another matter.
October 25, 1996
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