Festival de Cannes 70: Brenda Blethyn, 1996

A sunny shout-out to 70 winners at the Cannes Film Festival to celebrate the 70th event which is just around the corner – in no particular order.

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What a wreck Cynthia is, you might note while watching Mike Leigh’s Secrets & Lies. Bleak and uncompromising, yes of course, this film is, but Brenda Blethyn carries with her the open wounds and tired legs of single motherhood in council estate England. It’s a brittle and important backdrop to the story of a woman, a bag of nerves in fact, coming to terms with the discovery the daughter she gave away at birth is a young black woman. We, the audience, partially feel the shock and social acclimatization that Cynthia seems to be going through, as she struggles to keep it together. This is engulfed later when breaking the news to her already emotional, crumbling family. Blethyn is manic, warmly real, and utterly brilliant in every scene. As well as Best Actress, the film took the Palme d’Or and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury.

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