Universal acclaim - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. 100
    It moves us on a human level, it keeps us guessing during scenes as unpredictable as life, and it shows us how ordinary people have a chance of somehow coping with their problems, which are rather ordinary, too.
  2. Leigh is an artist not at all blind to the world's darkness and pain. But the generosity and togetherness he and his company show in Secrets and Lies is something the movies -- and the world -- truly need. [25 October 1996, Friday, p.A]
  3. 100
    Represents the director at his best -- unsentimental yet powerful, funny and poignant, and, in the end, undeniably satisfying.
  4. Leigh goes right to the core of his character's lives and mines the place where we're weakest, most alone and sometimes the cruelest.
  5. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Blethyn is so astonishing that you forget you're seeing a performance.
  6. 100
    If film means anything to you, if emotional truth is a quality you care about, this is an event that ought not be missed.
  7. 100
    Reveals itself detail by searing detail.
  8. 100
    A magnificent melodrama that draws both tears and laughter from the everyday give-and-take of seemingly ordinary souls.
  9. Leigh, the writer, ties up things somewhat neatly and is a touch homiletic. Leigh, the director of cast and camera, is masterly. [Sept. 30, 1996]
  10. Reviewed by: Jason Puskar
    A masterful mix of wit and humor, sympathy and sadness.
  11. Reviewed by: Frank Lovece
    A radiant, heartbreaking film.
  12. 90
    There's not a weak performance in Secrets And Lies, a fact made more notable by the seeming ease with which the cast performs as an ensemble.
  13. Reviewed by: Sean Means
    Breathtaking, heartbreaking.
  14. Reviewed by: Tom Keogh
    By creating characters from emotional wellsprings rather than concepts, Leigh thrills us with the possibilities that emerge when people are merely in the same room.
  15. Unfolds beautifully, with a rueful, knowing intelligence that rises above easy assumptions. [27 September 1996, p.C1]
  16. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    The results are wondrous, wrenching and crazily funny to behold.
  17. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Rich in humor, pained or frolicking.
  18. The acting is so strong--with Spall a particular standout--that you're carried along as by a tidal wave.
  19. Leigh has a gift for demonstrating character from the outside in.
  20. Reviewed by: Arnold Wayne Jones
    Secrets & Lies is all about wounds and our tendency to embrace placebos rather than the harder courses of treatment.
  21. Reviewed by: John Hartl
    So meticulously acted that you feel you're reading the characters' minds.
  22. 75
    Crammed, cheek to jowl, with bleak moments, high hopes, sweetness and naked emotion.
  23. A crowd-pleaser, all right, but, for all its appeal, a naggingly sanctimonious one.
  24. Reviewed by: Sarah Kett
    Leigh at his best is a renderer of moments--the wisest and deepest observer, probably, among living directors.
  25. Secrets & Lies, despite my dwelling on its problems, is a really solid and enjoyable movie. It's just not what I would call "best of the fest."
  26. Reviewed by: Staff [not credited]
    Unquestionably a finely observed, deeply felt work, though with some nagging problems in pacing and structure.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 42 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 13
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 13
  3. Negative: 0 out of 13
  1. Oct 19, 2013
    I am a huge Mike Leigh fan and this is his crowning glory. I still remember the first time I saw it at the movies. I had the tears streaming down my face in several parts. The acting is incredible. The story really interesting. It's an I can't miss kind of film. I am baffled that anyone would give it a negative review unless of course the only type of film they like is violent or action adventure. This film is neither that's for sure. Full Review »
  2. Mar 28, 2012
    The gearing up at the beginning of the film is slow while the cello and gray skies don't help much to break up the denseness. Secrets and Lies becomes more engrossing as it goes along. Terrific acting all the way really helps the vision. Reminds me a lot of "In the Bedroom" in that the sullen mood rarely lets go even when characters are smiling or laughing. Over all a quality film. Full Review »
  3. Dec 31, 2010
    Mike Leigh reveals to us how secrets and lies can cause upset, pain, and regret in what has to be one of the best British films of all time. With spot-on dialogue and glorious performances it is hard to find fault with Leigh's masterpiece. Just when we thought Cynthia would live out the rest of her days as a worker in a banal factory, with her confrontational daughter Roxanne, she is thrown a life line in the form of Hortense, and we see their relationship flourish. Timothy Spall is also on top form as the glue that holds the family together. Full Review »