Why Can’t We Share Our Pain?
Secrets. Lies. The older I get, the more I realize that we all have them, more or less, casting shadows over family gatherings, keeping people apart for basically no reason at all. Even though we know this on a theoretical level, we choose to keep up the mist and smoke, regardless. OK, if it’s a lie, but why stir up the peace and quiet? Sometimes the truth will come out in sudden bursts, when the shell can’t hold for the pressure any longer.
In some cases, facing death, someone else’s or our own, can bring us to finally take off our masks, letting the light expose all the cracks since there’s nothing left to protect. It doesn’t happen always though. From my experience death is way uglier in real life. It’s not heroic, just sad and scary and unlike in the movies people don’t put everything right in the last minute.
I first saw Secrets & Lies in a theatre as it came out in the mid 90s. Now I’ve seen it again, 15 years later, plowing through an excellent DVD-box containing almost all of Mike Leigh’s movies. My conclusion is that it only gets better over the years.
Being a mother of two soon-to-be-grown-up girls, having lost my own father in a grim cancer disease, having seen my own family tormented by lies and secrets casting their shadows generation after generation, in a seemingly never-ending story brings a new light and understanding of this movie that I just didn’t have at a younger age.
This said I won’t advice against anyone in their 20s to see it. As long as you don’t live in a bubble of happiness, never having been exposed to the darker side of life, secrets and lies, you too will know what Leigh is talking about.
“Secrets and lies! We’re all in pain! Why can’t we share our pain?” exclaims Maurice as the film reaches its climax. Yeah, why can’t we? And I think to myself that even if it’s out of my reach to tear down all the walls of lies and secrets, at least I should try not to build them any higher. This is the kind of movie that in a small, modest scale tries to give you a push – just a small, discrete one, to make your own life a little, litter bit better than it is.
Secrets & Lies (Leigh, UK 1996) My rating: 5/5