Secrets and Lies
In this essay I would like to argue that in Secrets and Lies Mike Leigh is suggesting that secrets cause tensions in families and destroys relationships between family members. Firstly, I would like to consider that it is actually true according my own experience because there is been some lies and hidden secrets in my family as well and once they are exposed, it causes embarrassments to those whom are affected.
Secondly, I believe secrets can form a negative and positive impact once they are exposed because, it can be a turning point where families consider reuniting and leave the past behind which obviously happens in Secrets and Lies. Sometimes it happens the other way around where Secrets and Lies destroy relationships between family members forcing them to abandon each other. In this paragraph I focus on how Secrets and Lies is compared to other movies based on a humanistic approach meaning that they introduce the nature of human behaviour in societies.
Mike Leigh assumes that,” The films that are made in most parts of the world aren’t “independent” films; they’re just films, really. Here “independent” films mean films made in spite of Hollywood. ” (Miller) Leigh considers Secret and Lies as an independent movie in a sense that it contains realistic facts and truthfulness compared to those produced by filmmakers in Hollywood where they mostly focus on style, cinematic etc. Leigh is right in that case because, Secret and Lies looks like some sort of documentary yet it’s a film rather than stylish, cinematic which in my point of view reflects to what is called humanistic approach.
It consists of simple elements that we all are related to and not too advanced with special effects or better graphics as movies made in Hollywood for instance. I strongly believe that it touches its viewers with its contents. According to Miller’s article, involving an interview with Mike Leigh, he claims that, ”I’d say that what I do is work very, very thoroughly indeed and get the actors involved from the word go to create a world that really does exist, whether we point a camera at it or not. (Miller) To make it all work, Leigh let his actors carry on with improvising while acting in order to create an environment which he relates to reality. This reflects to Rosenbaum’s quote where he asks himself why “Why, then, have I liked Secrets and Lies so much that I’ve been able to see it three times with pleasure, and found it as gripping the third time as the first? ” (Rosenbaum) It is how Leigh let his actors create an environment he looking for, says the author! In my opinion, I believe Rosenbaum is amazed about Leigh’s work because, the producer reveals how he simply does to make his movies become “independent”.
I assume that most producers scribble down a script and give it to their actors when it’s done and here Leigh does the opposite and the results prove to come out great. In this paragraph, I emphasize on the difference between Secrets and Lies in and Hollywood movies and what others say about his work. Rosenbaum argues that, ”Set Secrets and Lies alongside most recent Hollywood pictures it looks like a masterpiece, but considered in relation to the best of Leigh–say, Meantime or Grown-ups or High Hopes–or the best of recent non-Hollywood films, it looks rather thin. (Rosenbaum) As the author puts it, Secrets and Lies don’t have enough detailed information to be classified as one of Leigh’s best movies because, he claims that it not one that sticks in one’s mind. I’m of two minds about Rosenbaum’s claim that Secrets and Lies isn’t one of Leigh best movies because its lack of extra material to be considered in that category. On the one hand, I don’t think Secrets and Lies weren’t clarified enough for one to understand what is really going on.
On the other hand, I believe Leigh didn’t want to include unnecessary scenes in order to make it too long and simply erase its taste for some audience to be able to watch more than once. Still I strongly believe that some find Secrets and Lies as their favourite depending on their interests. Especially for those who relate it to their own environments in real life. I’m going to look at the race issue which most viewers regard as a main concept and also was on how Mike Leigh himself, responds to this during an interview.
When asked if Secrets and Lies emphases on a race aspect, Mike Leigh replies, it’s not what he focuses on and he also indicates that its only idiots who do think that way about the fact that Hortense is black and Cynthia is white because, some don’t even know that it is 1996 and people have learned to live with the race issue behind in some societies. In fact, he backs up his statement describing Hortense’s character stating that, “As you get to know her, you simply forget that she’s black because you get to know her and it ceases to be an issue. (Miller) I see Leigh’s point on the race aspect here because, it is 1996 when Secret and Lies came out and at that time, some societies consists of mixed races where racism is limited to a minimum point. Perhaps he wanted to point out the fact that Secrets and Lies was about other issues rather than race. Hortense had something to do which was to find her birth mother and try to find out the truth. What happened to her real father? Cynthia did want to get further on that case other than finally accepting Hortense as her daughter.
I assume she felt ashamed of whatever happened and wanted to keep that away from Hortense. Perhaps she didn’t want to upset Hortense by telling her the story nor herself. A quote from Boston Review states that, “In fact, a week before Leigh’s film opened in Boston, the local news was filled with stories about the reunion of just such a daughter and her birth mother-an Irish Catholic woman with two small children who had been raped in the early 1960s by a Black man. (Stone) This brings curiosity to my mind why the author gave this example? Is it because he was reflecting this to a race aspect or he wanted to lead the reader to point that Cynthia was raped and that’s how she got Hortense. In my opinion, Alan Stone tries to give an example in which he signalling the similarity of Secrets and Lies and what he read in the newspaper. I can’t really tell if the author what his message about this statement.
Was it because he related what he read in the newspaper to Secrets and Lies about the reunion of white mother and the adopted daughter? Or what I mentioned earlier? I assume he focused on both terms. I going to look at the scenes in Secrets and Lies as they reflect to the paragraph above and why they are very good for not only me but also for those who think they familiarize to them in terms of what they have experienced or what they have seen in real life.
Mike Leigh struggles to make sure the audience understands the film and he claims during an interview that, “I go to enough trouble to make sure that you do understand — in the scenes where Morris is taking photographs — the whole spectrum of society, the various kinds of people and various skin colours. ” (Miller) He brings a closer picture of reality rather than stylish, cinematic so that people relate to it in comparison to movies made by gigantic industries such as Hollywood.
He also reflects on how the environment looks like, people who live in it as shown when Morris takes pictures of different folks with different skin colours. In this case, it was filmed in London and according to me, that’s how the society looks like over there. Leigh ignores the race aspect in Secret and Lies because in this kind of society, people living in this environment have learned to live with it and it doesn’t affect many as it’s a mixed society with different ethnicities. In this paragraph, I focus on actors and their characters in Secrets and Lies in comparison to what most people go through in real life.
Author Rosenbaum summarizes Secrets and Lies to a dysfunctional family seeking mutual acceptance in an example in the movie where he claims that, “Cynthia is a mess, barrelling her way through the story, but it’s her messiness that ultimately exposes the family wounds and therefore allows them to begin to heal.