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Secrets & Lies.1996.Mike Leigh

December.2.2009

Sometimes you just have to sit down and watch a British drama for a change. Be sure to just sit down and try to clear your mind and give this film a chance as if you’re expecting the crazy films that the English is feeding us then this might look like it but on a more mellow level.

I guess films like this that were made in the mid nineties aren’t really known to us Filipinos. With kick-ass films such as Independence Day, Twister, Mission: Impossible, and the English made Trainspotting, who would’ve thought that there is a gem of a film somewhere around the world. The greatest explanation for this is the Internet is just starting to boom that time and Mr. Google has not been born yet.

The premise of Mike Leigh’s, the director, film is plainly simple. The film gives us the simple life of the Purley clan. The sister is almost, but not really, wants to kill her daughter because the kid is crazy. The brother has a carefree attitude outside the house but has problems with the wife and the niece. And we have on a separate storyline the story of a black woman trying to retrace her roots.

With the numerous telenovelas, Koreanovelas, and Asianovelas around us, we might say that we’ve already seen this kind of story. I mean as Asians we are so used to family storylines already due to the close family ties that we have in our culture and society. So, for obvious reasons, if you’ve seen this film already you might say that the plot has nothing to compare with our month long television series.

That’s where this film is better, in a way, since the storytelling was shortened to just two hours and forty-two minutes. Leigh was able to produce the needed punch in that short amount of time that includes an eight minute one-take shot of the black woman and the sister in the diner.

The plot twist at the ending is actually worth the wait. Again, if you’ve seen one too many Asian telenovelas, you might say that this film wouldn’t hurt me in any possible way. Then, you can just look at it this way, we’ve been bombarded by a lot of royal dramas with the likes of The Queen or Elizabeth that we’re not actually really familiar with the British drama for the ordinary people unless if you’ve seen Notes On A Scandal or something in that matter.

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