[Screen It]

 

"SECRETS & LIES"
(1996) (Brenda Blethyn, Marianne Jean-Baptiste) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate Minor Mild None None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor None None None Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate Heavy Moderate Mild Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A black woman searches for her birth mother and finds an emotionally distraught white woman and her dysfunctional family.
PLOT:
Hortense (MARIANNE JEAN-BAPTISTE) is a black optometrist who, after her adoptive mother's death, searches for her birth mother. She finds Cynthia (BRENDA BLETHYN), an emotionally distraught factory worker who's still raising her surly twenty-year-old daughter, Roxanne (CLAIRE RUSHBROOK) who sweeps streets when not spending time with her boyfriend, Paul (LEE ROSS). When Roxanne's photographer uncle, Maurice (TIMOTHY SPALL) and aunt Monica (PHYLLIS LOGAN) host her 21st birthday, Cynthia drops the unexpected announcement of their newest, and unknown till now, family member.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Since neither the actors nor the story will draw them, it's very doubtful.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • MARIANNE JEAN-BAPTISTE plays a dedicated professional who searches for her birth mother.
  • BRENDA BLETHYN plays an emotional wreck whose one night stands years ago left her with several daughters, one of which she put up for adoption (being only sixteen at the time).
  • CLAIRE RUSHBROOK plays the twenty-one-year-old with a bad attitude toward her mother.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
    While this film has been lauded as one of the best of the year, it's definitely one of the slowest moving. Static camera shots stare down the actors for excruciating amounts of time and betraying its title, the movie's secrets and lies certainly aren't that earth shattering and do nothing to advance what little of a plot there is. Yes, the performances are good, but one can take only so much distraught behavior from emotionally distraught people before it gets irritating. It's only when the Cynthia character is allowed to blossom that the movie begins to rise from the doldrums but, alas, the film makers then drag her back down into her bleak world again. If you like character driven movies, you'll probably enjoy this film. But with little humor to break the drab atmosphere (other than some quick montage photo sessions), nearly no plot, and stationary camera shots that will lull you to sleep, this movie will never break out from the art house crowd. We give it a 5 out of 10.
    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    It's doubtful kids will want to see this, but if they happen to come across it, here's a quick look at the material. Profanity is limited mainly to "f" words and several milder words. The topic of adoption and finding birth mothers is the big issue and this extended dysfunctional family certainly isn't a good example of how a family should act. Other than some drinking, smoking and some mild discussions about birth control, there's not a great deal to object to. Still, we suggest you read the category listings to determine whether this film is appropriate for you and your family.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Maurice and Monica drink wine.
  • Maurice drinks wine.
  • Cynthia is seen drinking what appears to be brandy on several occasions.
  • Hortense and a relative drink wine.
  • Maurice drinks beer by himself in a bar.
  • Maurice's former boss pours whiskey into a cup of tea.
  • Cynthia and Hortense have drinks with dinner.
  • Other people in the background at a restaurant drink and smoke.
  • Paul brings beer to a birthday party and others are seen drinking beer, wine and champagne.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see a woman in a photo session with scars on her face (from a car accident).
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Roxanne isn't nice to her mother and Cynthia isn't very thoughtful back to her. She says that Roxanne wasn't wanted (an unplanned pregnancy) to her.
  • At times Monica is mean to Maurice (evidently due to the physical pain she's experiencing).
  • Cynthia's family doesn't react nicely to her confession about Hortense.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Fart," "Shut up," "Stupid," "Balls" (testicles), "Bitch" (woman), "Bastard," and British slang "Bullocks," and "Slag."
  • In a quick photo montage, a little boy picks his nose.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • 13 "f" words, 2 "s" words, 1 "ass" word, 1 hell, and 2 uses each of "Oh God" and "Jesus Christ," and 1 use of "Oh Lord" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • After Cynthia tells Roxanne that her birth wasn't planned, Roxanne says "You should have thought about that before dropping your knickers."
  • In a quick photo montage, we see a woman in lingerie, but no nudity is seen.
  • Monica is seen sitting on the toilet, tampon in hand and her underwear pulled down, but no nudity is seen.
  • Cynthia adjusts her clothed breasts while looking in the mirror, and then seems to fondle them for a moment.
  • A friend tells Hortense that she "did the deed" with a complete stranger. Hortense asks her if she used a condom and the friend says that she used two, "one after the other."
  • Cynthia asks Roxanne if she's using the pill. She later says: that she hopes Paul uses a condom; that she has a "dutch cap" (diaphragm) that Roxanne can use; and that Roxanne could be fitted for "the coil" (an IUD).
  • Roxanne and Paul pull each other's clothes off down to their underwear. He then gets on top of her between her legs, but no nudity or movement is seen.
  • Roxanne tells her mom that she hopes she's "taking care of herself" and doesn't want to see her get "knocked up."
  • When Cynthia asks Hortense what she uses for contraception, she replies she uses condoms.
  • SMOKING
  • Cynthia smokes throughout the movie, while Roxanne and Paul also smoke.
  • Other people in the background at a restaurant drink and smoke.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Cynthia and Roxanne don't get along and are often fighting.
  • Hortense's siblings fight over who gets their mother's home after her death.
  • Hortense must deal with Cynthia initially not wanting to see or talk to her.
  • Cynthia's family is shocked and upset by her confession about Hortense.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Adoption and finding birth mothers.
  • Monica's physical pain from her apparent reproductive problems.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Roxanne pushes Cynthia down onto a bed while they're fighting.



  • Reviewed December 27, 1996

    Other new and recent reviews include:

    [Collateral Beauty] [La La Land] [Manchester By The Sea] [Rogue One: A Star Wars Story]

    Privacy Statement and Terms of Use and Disclaimer
    By entering this site you acknowledge to having read and agreed to the above conditions.

    All Rights Reserved,
    ©1996-2017 Screen It, Inc.