Secrets & Lies

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2 1/2

Content: -2 1/2

At first look, it doesn't seem possible this mixed-up English family can ever be compatible. Hortense (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) is a young African-English optometrist who has recently lost her adoptive parents. Her search for her birth mother leads to Cynthia (Brenda Blethyn), a white 40-something factory worker. Frumpy Cynthia never married, feels sorry for herself, and resents her younger successful brother, photographer Maurice (Timothy Spall). Cynthia's other daughter, an angry, sullen 20-year-old named Roxanne (Claire Rushbrook), lives with her. Roxanne is a street cleaner and, according to her Uncle Maurice, hasn't smiled since she was a little girl. Hortense is quite a shock to Cynthia, but the unlikely pair become good friends. Cynthia even invites her friend to Roxanne's 21st birthday party that Maurice and his wife are hosting. As the wine flows and tongues loosen, Cynthia reveals Hortense's real identity. What started out as a rare friendly family gathering turns into a disaster. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, SECRETS & LIES is an honest, uplifting adult family movie.

Unfortunately, the film's realism includes many gratuitous obscenities, one regular profanity and graphic, sexually oriented conversations. Roxanne shows contempt and disrespect for her mother, and in one shouting match with Cynthia, Roxanne pushes her down before storming out of the house. The girl and her boyfriend are shown once in their underwear bouncing on the bed in a very brief scene. References to condoms and other birth control methods are made as Cynthia tries to give Roxanne unwanted advice about her sex life. Hortense has a girlfriend who gives an explicit, intimate description of a recent lover. Maurice's wife has female problems that cause tension in their marriage, but he is an extremely caring husband. He also has a strong desire to repair old family wounds and becomes the catalyst that brings the family together. Hortense seems wise beyond her years as she sees the uneducated, dirt-poor Cynthia as a kind and funny woman she wants to know better. With some editing of its sexually suggestive content and foul language, SECRETS & LIES could have been a very worthwhile film for teenagers and adults.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Fine Line Features, 575 8th Ave., 16th Floor, New York, NY 10018

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Few (2) times Moderate

Obscene Language: Many (10) times (f-word 9, other 1)

Profanity: Regular Once (J-C)

Violence: Once Mild (girl pushes mother down)

Sex: Implied once (unmarried couple in bed together)

Nudity: None, but near nudity few times (couple in brief underwear, woman in low-cut nightgown)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Several times (references to condoms and other birth control; explicit discussion of love-making; woman's female problems discussed; crude references to sex)

Drugs: Few times (social drinking)

Other: Crude scene of woman in bathroom, and one of a man sitting on commode

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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