fbpx

UN SECRET

Director: CLAUDE MILLER

FRANCE • 2007 • SUBTITLED • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 105 MIN


FAMILY SKELETONS TUMBLE FROM THE CLOSET IN THIS TRULY ABSORBING PIECE OF STORYTELLING, WHERE THE WARTIME EXPERIENCES OF ONE JEWISH FAMILY ACT AS A MARKER FOR FRANCE’S YEARS OF SHAME.
Mathieu Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) features in the framing black-and-white 1980s sequences, as speech therapist François is called to visit his ailing elderly father (Patrick Bruel), before we move into colour for the 1950s and his unhappy childhood spent in the shadow of an ever-sporty dad then in his prime. What the young François learns from neighbouring masseuse Louise (Julie Depardieu) sends the story back a further layer to the late 1930s, where it’s not giving too much away to hint that François’ mother (an alluring Cecile de France) has not been the only woman in his father’s life. Thus is initiated an aching romantic conflict which is further intensified by the horrifying privations facing Paris’ Jewish community under the Nazi occupation. It could so easily have played as contrived melodrama, but director Claude Miller’s adaptation of Philippe Grimbert’s award-winning 2004 novel (just published in English as Secret) subtly uncovers the ghosts of the past to render the domestic complications on display not just tantalisingly involving, but tragically human too. Boasting a career-best performance from Ludivine Sagnier as the gamine Hannah, whose fate is to have a ripple-effect right through this family history, the film’s equally adroit in the manner with which it folds out from the personal to the political. Never hectoring, it’s piercingly, movingly insistent that reconciliation on an individual and national level can only begin once all of the past has been accounted for.—Trevor Johnston.

Book Tickets

}