offoffoff film
 RELATED PROJECTS

      







 ADVERTISEMENT













Site links
  • OFFOFFOFF Home
  • About OFFOFFOFF
  • Contact us

    Get our newsletter:
     
    Search the site:
     

    Film section
  • Film main page
  • Film archive
  • Audio index
  • Film links


    Top 10 lists


  • Top 10 films of 2004
    (Andrea, David, Joshua, Leslie)
  • Top 10 films of 2003
    (Andrea, David, Joshua, Leslie)
  • Top 10 films of 2002
  • Top 10 films of 2001
  • Top 10 films of 2000
  • Top 10 films of 1999
  •  All of our top 10 lists, 1999 - 2004

    Current movies


  • Afterschool
  • Antichrist
  • Babies
  • Broken Embraces
  • Dare
  • District 9
  • The End of Poverty?
  • Fix
  • Food Beware
  • The Men Who Stare at Goats
  • Pirate Radio
  • Precious
  • Red Cliff
  • The September Issue

    Festivals


  • Brooklyn International Film Festival
  • Human Rights Watch Film Festival
  • New York Film Festival

    Archive


    Complete archive

    Recent reviews:
  • (500) Days of Summer
  • Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer
  • The Art of the Steal
  • The Beetle
  • Blessed is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh
  • Boy A
  • Brideshead Revisited
  • The Brothers Bloom
  • Burn After Reading
  • Cold Souls
  • The Duchess
  • Elegy
  • Enlighten Up! A Skeptic's Journey Into the World of Yoga
  • Five Minutes of Heaven
  • Flame and Citron
  • Frozen River
  • Happy-Go-Lucky
  • How to Lose Friends & Alienate People
  • The Human Condition
  • Hunger
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • King of Shadows
  • The Lemon Tree
  • Lorna's Silence
  • A Man Named Pearl
  • Man on Wire
  • Memorial Day
  • Mister Foe
  • Morning Light
  • My Führer
  • My One and Only
  • Paris
  • The Pervert's Guide to Cinema
  • Peter and Vandy
  • Police, Adjective
  • Pray the Devil Back to Hell
  • Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind
  • Rachel Getting Married
  • A Secret
  • Sleep Dealer
  • St. Trinian's
  • Thirst
  • Throw Down Your Heart
  • Valentino: The Last Emperor
  • What's the Matter with Kansas?
  • Wild Grass
  • Jay DiPietro

  •  REVIEW: A SECRET

    A Secret

    The plaintiff veiled

    Based on psychoanalyst/novelist Philippe Grimbert's autobiographical novel "Memory," "Un Secret" is a fictionalized account of Grimbert's Jewish family's survival under the German occupation in Vichy France.

    By LESLIE (HOBAN) BLAKE
    Offoffoff.com

    What is it about families that engenders deceit in the name of love?

      
    A SECRET
    Original title: Un Secret.
    Written and directed by: Claude Miller.
    Produced by: Alfred Hürmer, Yves Marmion.
    Adapted from Memory by: Philippe Grimbert.
    Cast: Cécile De France, Patrick Bruel, Ludivine Sagnier, Julie Depardieu, Mathieu Amalric, Nathalie Boutefeu, Yves Verhoeven, Yves Jacques.
    Cinematography: Gérard de Battista.
    Edited by: Véronique Lange.
    Music by: Zbigniew Preisner.

    Related links: Official site
    Nowhere are there greater secrets and lies than among relatives, where the stories about covert adoptions, hidden true origins, and rampant illegitimacy abound.

    A somewhat different take on this phenomenon of familial non-disclosure can be found in "Un Secret," French filmmaker Claude ("Alias Betty") Miller's elegiac memory film set between WWII and 1985.

    Based on psychoanalyst/novelist Philippe Grimbert's autobiographical novel "Memory," the film is no less harrowing for being a fictionalized account of Grimbert's Jewish family's survival under the German occupation in Vichy France.

    The Grimbert family secret — part of which is that the author's name itself was originally Grimberg — is not unusual for WWII Jews but the whole secret has larger and far-reaching consequences. Miller's non-linear film adaptation recounts the first person story of one Francois Grimbert, as his memories fling us back and forth in time.

    A Secret  
    Our visual perspective is also disrupted by Miller's color scheme — the present (1985) is black-and-white while the past (both the '30s and '40s of the war and the '50s and '60s of the peace) is shown in saturated color flashbacks. It's not a new technique — check out Otto Preminger's "Bonjour Tristesse" (1957) — but it's used here to good effect.

    The cast is a stellar "Who's Who" of who's hot in French film today. The best known here so far is Mathieu ("The Diving Bell and The Butterfly") Almaric — about to make his American debut in "Quantum of Solace" — as the adult Francois, a psychotherapist working with autistic children. Francois provides a running narrative (the book is all narrative) about his boyhood self at ages 7 during the war and at 14 during peace-time.

      
      Bruel's a natural matinee idol and De France is just plain gorgeous. These two excellent actors are not well known here as yet, but after "Un Secret" they should be.
      
    Young Valentin Vigourt, who strongly resembles the equally young Lukas Haas of "Witness," is exceptional as the youngest Francois. A sickly, inhibited lonely child with a vivid imagination, he imagines he has a brother and is definitely not the apple of his father's eye.

    That father, Maxime, is played by French singer/actor/heartthrob Patrick Bruel, whose good looks and fine physique are as much a part of his character, as are his mother Tania's blonde haired, blue eyed Aryan features and athletic ability. Cécile De France easily graces her character with a natural cool elegance; little wonder that young Francois romanticizes them and their relationship.

    A Secret  
    These two excellent actors are not well known here as yet, but after "Un Secret" they should be. Bruel's a natural matinee idol and De France is just plain gorgeous. Rounding out the uniformly excellent cast is Julie Depardieu as Francois' honorary aunt‚ a gay photographer who knows and finally tells him the dark secret that marked his life so deeply. Ludovine Sagnier is also a huge part of that secret which I choose not to divulge in this review.

    One aspect of that secret deals with Maxime's refusal to identify as a Jew in an anti-semitic country to the point of seeming anti-semitic himself. The Nazis and the extermination of French Jews are pivotal plot points yet the film is as much a family saga as a holocaust movie.

      
      French filmmaker Claude Miller's most accessible export since "Alias Betty" recounts the first person story of one Francois Grimbert, as his memories fling us back and forth in time.
      
    With all its time and color shifts, the film also plays like a mystery as Francois unravels the secret of his past. It's certainly Claude Miller's most accessible export since "Alias Betty."

    SEPTEMBER 7, 2008
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK


    Reader comments on A Secret:

  • Un Secret -- pleasurable viewing.   from Banana, Mar 24, 2010

  • Post a comment on "A Secret"