The damage caused by long-kept secrets is at the heart of this moving drama adapted from David Leavitt's acclaimed novel. Confronted with his son's confession that he is gay, Owen (Brian Cox) realizes that he can no longer... more » live a lie. Although he still loves his wife Rose (Eileen Atkins), he abandons the safe world of the heterosexual for the difficult but rewarding journey of "coming out." But as he begins to explore his sexuality more fully, the marriage inevitably breaks down, despite Rose's efforts to continue as normal. And thought there is pain and suffering for all involved, this is also an opportunity for everyone to start their lives over, this time based on the truth.« less
Well-acted tale of a family eroding from long-kept secrets
D. Movahedpour | CA United States | 10/12/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film is based on David Leavitt's book of the same name, which takes place entirely in New York City. When the film version was made, with Leavitt's blessing, the scene is switched entirely to London. However, the core lesson of the film, about deep-seeded family secrets and how they erode the facade of a middle class family, stays in tact.Brian Cox and Eileen Atkins, two of Britain's best character actors, are incredibly good as the parents, Owen and Rose Benjamin. Owen is an Academic, and Rose is a Book Editor. The irony of Rose being in a profession where she needs an eye for detail is not lost as it contrasts to her own life. She has somehow managed to overlook that her husband is a closeted homosexual. In their generation, if a man felt or knew he was gay, he married, procreated, and carried on with life in most cases. The Benjamin's marriage could be like most long-term marriages without passion. Rose has had her affairs, mainly for the physical love she is missing from her husband. Owen wants desperately to explore the side of his life he has been repressing, but, so far, spends a good amount of his free time roaming gay cinemas.Adding to all of this is that their son, Phillip, a handsome book editor, very well-played by Angus MacFayden, is also gay. He is out to his friends, but not to his parents. He is madly in love with an American graphic artist, Elliott, played by Corey Parker. Phillip's belief that he has found the love of his life leads him to finally come out to his parents. But, he has no idea of the can of worms he has opened in the life and marriage of his parents. Rose would have been content to keep secrets indefinitely. However, Owen's son's admission opens the floodgates and propels Owen toward his new life.The film is still fairly faithful to the book, which I also recommend very highly. The acting is top-notch, as often seems the case in British-made films. The story is engrossing in its brevity, and strong in its lessons of honesty, betrayal, and the ultimate destruction of long-held secrets."
This is the most important movie of my life!
D. Movahedpour | 04/04/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I sat on the floor of my suburban home watching this movie,40 years old, tears streaming down my cheeks. I could feel the pain the father in this film felt, the life his son had, that he himself had not lived. It was like a great hole in the middle of my being. This was all it took for me to come bursting out of my closet. My life was finally starting!"
A bit dark but good
Cambel | Washington, DC USA | 11/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A whole lifetime comes crashing down when the son in this story reveals he is gay. This prompts the father, living a lie for as long as he can remember to reveal his own homosexuality to his family. The wife, although made to look a bit badly in the film was the most sypathetic character to me in the movie. She feels like her entire life was a lie her husband made up to hide. A strong sub-plot with the son dating a bit of a player who just wants to drift off gives the movie a sense of unease. I definetly recomend this and then after you might want to watch "Broken Hearts Club" to cheer yourself up."
A Good Adaptation of an Excellent Book
Polonius | Flushing, NY United States | 04/19/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film is a textbook example of how difficult it is to translate a book into a movie. Good as it is, as well cast and acted as it is, the movie still cannot get into the interior of the characters the way that David Leavitt's book does. The change of setting from New York to London works well because the basic issues are universal.For those people struggling with the issues that this movie presents, it is a godsend. There is no sugar coating of the marital issues that Owen and Rose must face. Eileen Atkins is marvelous in her subtle portrayal of the suppressed rage, resentment, frustration and fear mixed with love that she feels towards Owen. Owen's dilemma is well portrayed and his breakdown and reaction to his son's coming out is perfectly on target. One wishes that the episode of the botched phone call were better filled in. In the book it represents a cry for help and an almost blind reaching out that is thwarted by the reality of indifference and mocking irony of the target of a prank. The movie glosses over and changes the situation making the impact much less.The movie was produced for television by the BBC and WNET and the scale is right for the small screen. The only jarring and inexplicable note are the interludes of the disturbed child and the crane. This is taken directly from the book and is equally jarring in that setting. The author is making a metaphoric point but it eludes me.That said, definitely see the movie but if you can, please read the book as well. You will find it enlightening, moving, and perhaps life-changing."
Bonita L. Davis | 09/16/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Philip comes from a rigid, uptight family whose lives resemble that of a rigid crane. Everyone keeps a happy face but no one is able to share what is going on with them internally. Philip can no longer hide what he is from his family. He decides to become open about his homosexuality to them. He shares this with his lover who also keeps secrets. Philip's announcement unravels a flood of pain, guilt and anger from his parents. His mother believes some secrets should be kept hidden while his father lingers in a pool of guilt. As an audience we get to see the hypocrisy of a couple in a marriage that is a farce. We witness one young man's inability to be in a relationship all because he wants his past hidden. The explosion of feelings becomes a cartharsis that each character seeks but some of them want to keep up the appearance of everything being okay. Enter the world of gay bars, one night stands and illicit sex in a revealing movie that forces people to be honest about themselves and their lives. Secrets can kill. Secrets can hurt. The secrets in this movie will force you to confront your own sexuality and ethics. Angus Macfayden does a splendid job as the young man deciding to be honest while his mother (Eileen Atkins) insists on carrying out the farce. Share in these secrets."