Secret Friends

Beset by fantasies careering out of control, John (Bates) is driven towards madness and a total obliteration of self. As a child, he conjured up an imaginary 'secret friend' rebellious enough to withstand his father's Victorian discipline. Years later, the friend is still on hand, feeding the anger and guilt which find a compliant victim in John's wife Helen (Bellman). In this adaptation of his own novel Ticket to Ride, Potter's complex linking of sexual fantasy and destructive forces is unwieldy and embittered. Nothing is what it seems. John appears to have committed a murder, and as the film intercuts between past and present to reveal clues, he struggles with amnesia and impending insanity. Did he, will he kill his wife? Is she, was she a prostitute? Sex exacts penalties ('We all pay for it'), bleak humour recompenses ('Sex is funny, a bloody hoot'), and women, tiresomely, are by turns dependent and predatory.

Release details

Duration: 97 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Dennis Potter
Screenwriter: Dennis Potter
Cast: Alan Bates
Gina Bellman
Frances Barber
Tony Doyle
Joanna David
Colin Jeavons
Rowena Cooper
Ian McNeice
Davyd Harries
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