Mike Leigh is one of England’s most accomplished directors. His recent success, Vera Drake, shows that the man hasn’t lost his touch. Leigh’s films go back over 30 years. His famous “Mike Leigh” method (in short hand) involves actors improvising scenes for months; Leigh writes the scenes down and a screenplay is created. The films he’s made include quirky character dramadies, Life is Sweet and down and dirty slices of life, Naked. But nowhere is this “Mike Leigh method” more successful tha… in his masterpiece Secrets & Lies.
Secrets & Lies has a few story lines. But the main narrative follows the character of Hortense Cumberbatch (great name) as she searches for her birth mother (played by Brenda Blethyn). But Hortense is a black woman and Cynthia (the birth mother) is a very working class white woman. Sounds like a vehicle for Beonce? Mike Leigh has more class than that. But there are hilarious moments; and the climax of the film is shattering. Secrets & Lies garnered many major Oscar nominations for its year, and rightly so. It’s a damn fine film; a masterpiece of British cinema.
The film is mostly dialogue driven. So the Dolby Digital 2.0 track is appropriate. The front heavy mix comes through loud and clear. The dialogue can be heard quite well and the underrated musical score, by Anthony Dickson, is a real treat.
Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic, this widescreen transfer is very good. There are grainy patches, but this is intentional. Leigh preserves a certain “middle class” look. In contrast to Cynthia’s world, there are some beautiful visual images, and colors are bright and well defined. A little bit of edge enhancement detected, but not too much. This is a very crisp looking transfer.
A theatrical trailer and a few previews. Disappointing for a film of this quality.
Secrets & Lies is a must own for any serious cinema fan. Mike Leigh’s improvisation techniques are now infamous and his dedication to character is something to study. The exquisite video transfer and the decent audio mix make the experience that much better. The disappointing extras are, well, disappointing. Oh well. What are you gonna do? Make up your own? Hmmm, maybe Mike Leigh would like that.
Special Features List
- Theatrical Trailer