Secrets & Lies (1996)

Roxanne drives her mother crazy. Maurice never speaks to his niece. Cynthia has a shock for her family. Monica can't talk to her husband. Hortense has never met her mother.

Original Title : Secrets &, Lies
Director : Mike Leigh
Writer : Mike Leigh
Genre : Drama
Country : France
Language : English
Producer : Simon Channing-Williams
Music : Andrew Dickson
Photography : Dick Pope
MPAA Rating : Rated R for language.
IMDB ID : 0117589
Official site :
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poster for "Secrets & Lies" by Mike Leigh (1996)
Secrets & Lies (1996) - Mike Leigh


Timothy Spall Maurice Purley
Phyllis Logan Monica Purley
Brenda Blethyn Cynthia Rose Purley
Claire Rushbrook Roxanne Purley
Marianne Jean-Baptiste Hortense Cumberbatch
Elizabeth Berrington Jane
Michele Austin Dionne
Lee Ross Paul
Lesley Manville Social Worker
Ron Cook Stuart
Emma Amos Girl with Scar
Brian Bovell Hortense's Brother
Trevor Laird Hortense's Brother
Claire Perkins Hortense's Sister-in-Law (as Clare Perkins
Elias Perkins McCook Hortense's Nephew
Jane Mitchell Senior Optometrist (as June Mitchell
Janice Acquah Junior Optician
Keeley Flanders Girl in Optician's
Hannah Davis First Bride
Terence Harvey First Bride's Father
Kate O'Malley Second Bride
Joe Tucker Groom
Richard Syms Vicar
Grant Masters Best Man
Annie Hayes Mother in Family Group
Jean Ainslie Grandmother
Daniel Smith Teenage Son
Lucy Sheen Nurse
Frances Ruffelle Young Mother
Felix Manley Baby
Nitin Chandra Ganatra Potential Husband
Metin Marlow Conjuror
Amanda Crossley Raunchy Woman
Su Elliot Raunchy Woman
Di Sherlock Raunchy Woman
Alex Squires Triplet
Lauren Squires Triplet
Sade Squires Triplet
Dominic Curran Little Boy
Stephen Churchett Man in Suit
David Neilson Man in Suit
Peter Stockbridge Man in Suit
Peter Waddington Man in Suit
Rachel Lewis Graduate
Paul Trussell Grinning Husband
Denise Orita Uneasy Woman
Margery Withers Elderly Lady
Theresa Watson Daughter
Gordon Winter Laughing Man
Jonathan Coyne Fiancé
Peter Wight Father in Family Group
Gary McDonald Boxer
Alison Steadman Dog Owner
Liz Smith Cat owner
Sheila Kelley Fertile Mother
Angela Curran Little Boy's Mother
Linda Beckett Pin-Up Housewife
Philip Davis Man in Suit
Wendy Nottingham Glum Wife
Anthony O'Donnell Uneasy Man
Ruth Sheen Laughing Woman
Ruth Sheen Laughing Woman


Cynthia lives in London with her sullen street-sweeper daughter. Her brother has been successful with his photographer's business and now lives nearby in a more upmarket house. But Cynthia hasn't even been invited round there after a year. So, all round, she feels rather lonely and isolated. Meanwhile, in another part of town, Hortense, adopted at birth but now grown up, starts to try and trace her mother.


A touching story overwhelmed with too many unhappy moments It is unusual for me to see a film that has received so much critical and viewer praise and feel at times very uncomfortable. The central story of Cynthia's relationship with her daughter and brother and later a second unknown daughter is very real. Cynthia's sad life is touching but the film adds too many unhappy moments. The brother's wife is in pain and is angry. The brother's former boss is a bitter unemployed alcoholic. These and other depressing events do not provide contrast to Cynthia's hopelessness and made it often too intense for me. Still this is a film worth seeing if you don't mind heavy working class British accents and appreciate seeing people work through deception and accusations to forgiveness.
poster for "Secrets & Lies"
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Secrets & Lies (1996) - Mike Leigh