‘That’s my son’: replacement, jealousy and sacrifice in Un Secret
Philippe Grimbert’s autobiographical novel Un Secret (2004) tells the tale of the gawky son of athletic parents who hide both their Jewish origins and his. He dreams of a brother in their image who both fascinates and torments him; later he discovers the family past and the guilts and losses that lie behind his parents’ relationship. Claude Miller’s film adaptation crosses from a black-and-white present to a highly coloured past in which desire is enabled by the first wife’s dramatic decision – impulsive or planned, we cannot know – to go with her child into captivity. Replacement of a child, a name, a husband, a wife, a dog, a culture and a genre, all pivot on the enigma of a mother’s suicidal embrace.
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