When the two woman finally meet as Hortense tracks down her mother, is the most powerful and well-played out scene in the movie. Cynthia is surprised at seeing a black woman and is convinced that there is something wrong with the records, but the slow sinking in of reality is so momentous – with horror, excitement, affection and a terrible despair, all emotions rushing
in with force and awkwardness.
There are so many secrets in the movie – everyone is terrified of opening up and baring themselves, as if there will be an explosion if they do so. With all these secrets, there is a terrible restraint in all relationships, which stay coldly cordial on the surface, and you can perceive the constant stretching, until everything explodes at a family gathering.
Almost everything was right with the movie – the strong characters and actors who adopted those characters with an entirety, the build-up of the tension, specially at the family reunion, the subtlety of every scene and the helplessness of Maurice, who is stretched with all these secrets between his love for his wife and his sister’s family.The scenes of his photo shoots, where he works hard to create illusions and hide the secrets between families with his happy pictures, are a metaphoric summarizing of what he also does in his personal life. On the other hand is Hortense, who, as an optometrist, wants to see things clearly, without any haziness. With her composure and sophistication, she is a contrast to the entire family, who spend the majority of their lives in a state of high emotional tension.
I remember that a long time ago I saw a french movie on a similar theme, where an unspoken secret keeps a family apart for years, until at a funeral the daughters succumb to the tension and speak out. It was a brilliant movie and equally well done. I am breaking my head over trying to find the name – without success so far. Anyone?