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Separate Lies
Separate Lies
Actors: Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson, Hermione Norris, John Warnaby, Rupert Everett
Director: Julian Fellowes
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
R     2006     1hr 25min

Secrets and lies spiral out of control in this heart-pounding suspense thriller. Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson star as James and Anna, a seemingly happy couple whose marriage begins to unravel when he learns she┬'s been ...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson, Hermione Norris, John Warnaby, Rupert Everett
Director: Julian Fellowes
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/21/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2005
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 25min
Screens: Color,Full Screen,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 5
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, English, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish

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Member Movie Reviews

Priscilla P. (HappyReedR)
Reviewed on 10/17/2010...
Wow, a good movie. Lots of layers and depth in the characters. The true meaning of love: to love someone even when they don't love you back (in the same way) and not force yourself upon that person simply be happy for their joy and safety. Surely a state of being that must be learned through experience.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Strange Bedfellows
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 10/12/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Julian Fellowes, in his first film as director (he wrote the screenplay here and for "Gosford Park") films the beginning of "Separate Lies" as an idyllic ode to England: a Cricket match, beautiful gauzy shots of the English countryside, stately country manors, titled gentry in white cricket attire and lounging in tweeds and woolens. For all intents and purposes based on the first 10 minutes, "Separate Lies" could have been set in 1915.
But then Rupert Everett shows up as William Bule and we are thrust forward 90 years in a matter of seconds as he insinuates himself into the plot and the marriage of James and Anne Manning (a mannered and slightly off her game, Emily Watson and an excellent Tom Wilkinson...when is someone going to mount a production of "Death of a Salesman" for this guy?)
We are in the infidelity arena in "Separate Lies" and no one makes a film about infidelity like the Brits: think "Damage" with the terrific trio of Jeremy Irons, Juliette Binoche and Rupert Graves and the now almost forgotten, "Betrayal" (shamefully only available on VHS) with Irons again, Patricia Hodge and Ben Kingsley. Unfortunately, "Separate Lies" is neither up to the task nor the excellent quality of these two films.
Though the action gets more intriguing and interesting as the movie moves towards its ambiguous and ironic denouement, the film loses steam as a punctured balloon loses air and deflates and this can only be blamed on the flaccid editing.
Rupert Everett's icy, loose and entitled performance is a great foil for Wilkinson's sweaty, worried and jittery performance: their scenes together crackle with wit and fire.
The almost always excellent Watson's Anne is problematic. She doesn't seem to grasp the core of her character and her performance is at times right on and at others, not.
"Separate Lies" is a good not a great film. It starts off like gangbusters, full of life and vigor and then seems to lose its way artistically. But despite this, Fellowes nonetheless displays talent and a distinctive point of view: things that are not easy to come by among the new crop of film makers.
The Ensemble Effect
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 02/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Nigel Balchin's maze-like novel 'A Way Through the Wood' has been adapted by Julian Fellowes who also directs this 'terribly British' drawing room suspense piece. It is a film whose effect relies on the cast portraying the varyingly benign/malignant characters and it is here that Fellowes' directorial choices are superb. The story has a linear line that is easy to follow, but the beauty of the film is the metamorphosis of each player as a single incident ignites a minefield of disasters.

James Manning (Tom Wilkinson) is a successful business obsessed solicitor in London, married to Anne (Emily Watson) who needs more in her life: the couple being childless live in the country in a beautiful estate, assisted by their long term 'cleaner' Maggie (Linda Bassett). They attend social outings and meet, among others, William Bule (Rupert Everett), the passively lazy wealthy neighbor. Anne decides they should entertain their neighbors and against gruff James' protestation Anne proceeds with planning: James arranges to 'not attend due to business'. On the night of the party there is a hit and run accident in which Maggie's husband is accidentally killed by someone in a Range Rover (she observed). When James returns home he sees a scratch on William's Range Rover and suspects William to be the perpetrator. Anne discourages James from going to the police with the information -'what possible good can it do but ruin Bill's life as a socialite and father and son of an important scion?'. From this first 'lie' the virus spreads: James confronts Bill who talks James out of going to the police, Anne confesses it was she who was driving Bill's Rover and is the one responsible, James convinces Anne to keep it quiet because it would ruin his reputation, Anne confesses she is having an affair with Bill, and the three of them concur that they will stick together on their big lie for the sake of the greater good. Anne eventually succumbs to the guilt of not telling her beloved Maggie that she is the one responsible and Maggie, herself guilty of a previous theft whose life was saved by Anne's mercy to hire her anyway, is the agent who draws the story to its surprising conclusion. Lies begat lies that begat lies, et cetera.

The major impact of this intrigue is the manner in which the isolated tragedy impacts each of the characters involved. Each changes in a dramatic way. Tome Wilkinson gives the finest performance of a career filled with brilliant performances: he is able to say more with his posture and facial expressions than about any actor before the audience today. Likewise the gifted Emily Watson adds yet another fine role to her repertoire as does the surprisingly smarmy Rupert Everett who, despite being yet another wealthy British 'gentleman', gives us a man both arid of spirit and yet ultimately needy. And the always-fine Linda Bassett takes a small role and finesses it making her character quietly central to the chaotic web of lies.

The cinematography by Tony Pierce-Roberts and the musical score by Stanislas Syrewicz add immeasurably to the multiple atmospheres the story encounters. This is ensemble playing at its finest, which always means that the director (Julian Fellowes) has a fine grasp on the piece. The interplay of these fine people makes the dodgy story work very well indeed. Grady Harp, February 06

What Happened To The Plot?
Robert Derenthal | California United States | 03/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is a delightful semi-thriller that explores several themes. A tragic hit and run accident provides a test of ethics for the main three protagonists. The movie asks the question do we protect someone we love from the consequences of that person's actions? It is almost amusing to see the ethical about face of one of the cast when it is discovered that the driver is someone else than the person thought to be the guilty party. An adulterous affair complicates the plot, and the movie explores the resulting anguish of the participants.

At the beginning of this review I stated that the movie is a semi-thriller. The three main characters are involved in events that cause an increasing state of tension as the movie progresses, but I really feel that the director wasn't trying to make a thriller at all. The emotional struggles of the the trio are what's really important. One reviewer commented that the movie dragged. When I watched it I marveled at the tight editing of the movie. Many scenes seem to last only a minute or less, and none of them contain any unnecessary material.

One thing that surprised me though, is that a certain aspect of the plot simply vanishes later on in the movie. Aside from that I really felt that this was a well crafted film."