Secrets and Lies: Brenda Blethyn
Brenda Blethyn - her movies & her work.
Today I am talking about one of my favourite actresses, Brenda Blethyn, and her parts in some of my best loved films.
The one you see on the right is a definite favorite in my DVD collection and is a perfect example of Blethyn's work.
Many years ago, I did some work for the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival, which is where I saw this film and discovered Brenda Blethyn's work.
Secrets & Lies
Sometimes the word 'actress' conjures up an image of a rather glamorous female of the Hollywood type but Brenda Blethyn is far from that. She is slightly dumpy and although attractive, she's certainly not the typical 'star'. When seen as herself, rather than the roles she plays, she's like a friendly middle-aged mum - someone you'd love to join for a cup of tea and a chat.
A single mother
And she is a mum in Secrets & Lies. She has a rather grumpy grown up daughter and she had previously given birth to another girl. when she was just fifteen. She'd had her first daughter adopted and had been so distressed that she hadn't even been able to hold - or even look at - the baby she gave up.
Searching for a birth mother
Now, twenty-something years later, that daughter has lost her adoptive parents and is looking for her real mother. She discovers who her mother is, contacts her and the two arrange to meet.
She never knew who the father was
Cynthia, Blethyn's character, must have been quite girl in her younger years because she wasn't really sure who was the father of the baby she gave up. Take a look at the cover of the CD above and you'll see why both women, mother and daughter, were surprised (to put it mildly) when they met.
Not just a colour issue
One of the reasons this film is so amazing is that the daughter is distinctly more educated, successful and better off than her working-class mother.
What impact would this have on the family?
Would the two women become friends?
The film asks - and answers - many questions.
Once you've seen one, you'll want more
This film demonstrates the diversity of Brenda Blethyn's roles.
She plays the part of a recently widowed respectable woman who lives in a small, rural community. She has a beautiful home but soon discovers that she might lose it - her husband has left her no money.
She loves the home and its grounds as she is a keen gardener. I know that might sound a little boring so far but when she discovers that her gardener is growing marijuana on her premises, her horticultural knowledge sets her off on a whole new career.
Yet another very different role. So far we have seen Brenda as a working class Londoner. Then, in Saving Grace she's highly respectable widow. living in a small village in the beautiful county of Cornwall in southern England.
In this film,we travel just a few hundred miles - but in fact a million miles away in every other respect - to Scarborough in North Yorkshire to see her in a very different role indeed.
You'll recall that Mae West said 'I don't smoke and I don't drink and two out of three ain't bad'. Well, this character, another widow, does all three. A lot.
I haven't seen the film below but it's high on my list.It looks completely fascinating
This is on my must-see-as-soon-as-possible list. (It's quite a long list). This shows Brenda playing yet another mum.
This time,she is searching for her daughter in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks that took place in London in 2005. In a vague echo of Secrets and Lies, she joins forces with a West African man who is also searching - for his son.
This is a very different role and she discovers that her daughter had become a Muslim and had been living in an area which was extremely multi-cultural. I wish I could tell you more but check out the video clip below. I don't think we're going to be disappointed.
Below are four videos showing the films I've spoken about above. These will admirably show you the diversity of Brenda Blethyn's roles and give you a flavour of the movies themselves.
Which is my favourite? Oh, don't ask. I'm really not sure I could choose one over any other. They are all wonderful.
You'll see a few short clips from Secrets and Lies in this first video. But more than that- listen to director Mike Leigh talking about the making of the film and his approach - particularly about improvisation.
He explains how the barbecue scene took place in real time with ten hours of film which he then distilled. Interestingly, he also explains that in many countries, including the majority of the United States,it illegal for an adopted adult to trace their own birth mother.
When you watch this trailer I think you'll agree with me and put it into your own must-see list. I have no idea what this film will be like. I don't know - other than from the trailer - how the story line will develop. But the fact that the trailer alone is so moving, plus the fact that my favorite actress stars, means that I have to see this film.
In a completely different role, Brenda Blethyn plays the part of a newly-widowed woman - a pillar of society - who discovers she is left penniless.This is the trailer for this brilliant - and truly funny - film.
Yet another completely different role. Again, we see her playing the part of a single mum but this is very different. Here, she is telling her friend about the new 'love of her life' and the fun and games that they got up to. This is a truly fabulous scene.
© 2013 Jackie Jackson