How does Mike Leigh use mise en scene to create meaning in the barbeque scene at the end of 'Secrets And Lies'?

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‘Secrets And Lies’

How does Mike Leigh use mise en scene to create meaning in the barbeque scene at the end of ‘Secrets And Lies’?


        As the narrative unfolds in Mike Leigh’s ‘Secrets And Lies’ we reach the

dramatic climax of the film, the barbeque scene. This has significance to the title of the film, ‘Secrets and Lies’ as all the hidden secrets, such as Monica’s inability to

have children, and Cynthia’s secret daughter, Hortense are revealed to their families.

In the opening sequence the first view of Monica is one of her hovering and stencilling with aggression, connoting to the audience her obsessive nature and how she wrongly prioritises materialistic things to disguise the fact she is incapable to conceive.



The opening shot of the barbeque scene is of Monica preparing the table, which heightens the view that she is overly concerned with appearance. Typically of Monica it is

perfectly laid out however it is telling that the chairs are mismatching which connotes she is not used

to having family gatherings or certainly not Maurices family. The mise

en scene of Monica’s trophy  house conveys Monica’s misplaced values, the living room is all shades of subtle greens with pretty

matching floral patterns on the lampshade, sofa and wallpaper

which are obviously Monica’s creations. However although the house is

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spotless there is no homeliness or warmth to it which suggests her unhappiness and

emptiness is being disguised by a Laura Ashley inspired façade, Monica’s energy has been soley directed at the house to fill the

vacuum in her life resulting from her inability to have children.


When Cynthia arrives at Monica’s and Maurice’s house her body language looks up at the house suggests she feels intimidated and inadequate

by Monica’s suburban house. As Cynthia enters the house she greets Monica with a

kiss on the cheek, Monica pulls ...

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