By Ty Burr
Updated May 02, 1997 at 04:00 AM EDT

Defiantly grimy and peopled with pasty-skinned Londoners braying in incomprehensible accents, writer-director Mike Leigh’s acclaimed film, Secrets & Lies, seems the antithesis of feel-good cinema. And yes, its thicker-than-marmalade pacing seems even pokier on the small screen. But you have a family, correct? And the people in your family chafe and hedge and fib to get through the day without killing each other, right? Then you should appreciate how Leigh observes, with unvarnished clarity, the blue-collar Purley clan: dithery Mum (Oscar-nommed Brenda Blethyn), surly daughter (Claire Rushbrook), saintly brother (Timothy Spall, who should have been nominated), and illegitimate daughter (Marianne Jean-Baptiste, also an Oscar candidate). The average renter may see mud, but anyone who digs will find pearls as Leigh and his cast guide their characters to things all families deserve: resolution, peace, grace. A-

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