Metascore
71

Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 30
  2. Negative: 0 out of 30
  1. Wilkinson once again astonishes with his ability to convey weakness and strength, hypocrisy and gallantry, cruelty and compassion in the same male animal.
  2. 90
    This material could easily have devolved into soap opera or romantic melodrama, but Wilkinson and Watson's superb, subtle performances lend it tremendous depth and gravity.
  3. 90
    At 85 minutes the movie is beautifully focused, reaching deep into its characters as they confront terrible secrets but never sacrificing momentum as the mystery unravels.
  4. 88
    Watson and Everett, both superb, bring ferocity and feeling to their roles. But the one you won't forget is Wilkinson (In the Bedroom) in a towering performance of grace and grit that deserves to put him on Oscar's shortlist. Good show.
  5. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    88
    If there's pleasure to be derived from the misfortunes of others, then Julian Fellowes' wickedly entertaining adaptation of Nigel Balchin's nearly forgotten 1951 novel is a barrel of fun.
  6. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    88
    This morally ambiguous tale of dangerous liaisons and bewildering choices amounts to one of the year's most intriguing dramas.
  7. 83
    Three impeccably cast actors are fully engaged in something like a psychological thriller that has much of the crushing weight and lingering pain of grown-up life on this Earth.
  8. The story presents a moral morass involving betrayal, illicit sex, hypocrisy and a crime, yet the film feels tidy. Only one punch gets thrown, and you sense the perpetrator regrets his action immediately. It is all very British.
  9. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    80
    With Separate Lies, Fellowes has made a truly adult film -- not because of its content or themes, but because it knows that real drama often lies in the accepted and unspoken realms of life.
  10. The intricacies here are moral and ethical, and they're fascinating.
  11. Reviewed by: Raoul Hernandez
    78
    Like the best UK drawing room dilemmas, Separate Lies is more tart than bitter, with Fellowes, the Cambridge-educated son of a diplomat, acquitting himself grandly of cinematic boorishness.
  12. 75
    Separate Lies reminded me of Woody Allen's "Crimes and Misdemeanors"... seemingly about the portioning of blame. It is actually about the burden of guilt, which some can carry so easily while for others, it is intolerable.
  13. The writing isn't always up to the actors, who all give the kind of expert, theatrically ingenious performances that often seem director-proof.
  14. 75
    If you need proof that the British are different from the rest of us, look no farther than the thought-provoking Separate Lies, a chilly, intelligent and absorbing drama about infidelity, ethics and forgiveness.
  15. A neat, twisty little domestic drama about smart people, foolish choices.
  16. So gin-and-tonic dry, so deceptive in its deadpan-ness, that it's not always clear that Julian Fellowes is having fun. But he is.
  17. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    75
    It touches deftly on class and race and sexual dissatisfaction and never lets up once it has put its characters under a microscope. Beautifully acted throughout, it showcases Watson's most complex performance in years.
  18. The most fascinating aspect of the film is how the point of view shifts -- each character, as seen through another's eyes, is something else entirely.
  19. 70
    Though it's not much more than an haute-bourgeois morality play about the inadequacy of bourgeois morals, that's plenty in view of the small but terrific ensemble at Fellowes' disposal.
  20. 67
    Fellowes sets the screen for a tale of subterfuge in the upper crust, a la Agatha Christie.
  21. Separate Lies is deceptive in more ways than it intends. Because the acting is so uniformly superb, we're almost fooled into believing that the movie is as good as the cast. It isn't, not by half.
  22. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    60
    Quality acting and writing and appropriately understated direction, but a touch too polite for its own good.
  23. 60
    Fellowes's larger goal seems to be making sympathetic characters of Anne and Bule, who for all their lovey-doveyness never emerge as much more than rich twits à la "The Great Gatsby."
  24. The movie is so busy constructing its labyrinthine plot that it often forgets to plumb the souls of its characters.
  25. 60
    Fellowes has brought intelligence and control to the eternally vexing question of whether the right thing is always the good thing.
  26. 50
    A soufflé that begins promisingly but never quite rises.
  27. 50
    Fellowes is so desperate for us to like these people that, despite how guilty everyone seems, there's scarcely any pleasure in the film for us.
  28. Reviewed by: Staff (Not credited)
    50
    When all is said and done, you'll likely find you have nowhere to place your sympathy, no character worth rooting for.
  29. To watch the film is to marvel at the cast's virtuosity at fleshing out the shallowest people in England, and the observable intelligence and talent of all those involved doesn't make Separate Lies any more compelling, or its characters more resonant.

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