Saturday, October 13, 2007

LA VIDA SECRETA DE LAS PALABRAS (THE SECRET LIFE OF WORDS)

LA VIDA SECRETA DE LAS PALABRAS
(THE SECRET LIFE OF WORDS)

Tim Robbins, Sarah Polley, Julie Christie

6th Spanish Film Festival
Cinema 2, Greenbelt 3

It has been a while since I've been touched by such a simple yet thought provoking film. It was mind blowing. A highly emotional forage into the souls of the two main characters who at first glance seem like ordinary people. Yet they both bear such painful anguish within themselves that are too explosive to reveal.

Hanna is a hearing impaired (but wears a hearing aid) factory worker who during her vacation, decides to take a job as a nurse in an oil rig in the middle of the vast ocean. She is a quiet and inconspicuous person who takes her 'duty' seriously. Preferring to keep to herself, she doesn't open up easily. Her patient is Josef, an American who is blinded temporarily after suffering severe burns during a mishap on the oil rig. A talkative guy who likes to quote poetry. He is constantly teasing Hanna to reveal more about herself. As the days go by, they develop a close bond mostly peppered with Josef's interesting narratives about life. While Hanna still continues to shield herself from divulging more about her troubled life.

Despite the presence of 5 other people (all men) on the rig, this film is mostly about special bond which develops between Hanna and Josef. Set on a drilling station in the middle of a vast ocean, you hardly feel sick sea since most of the scenes unfold in the room where Josef is bedridden. An eerie voice narrates some parts of the film and the interesting part is figuring out the symbolism of that voice.
The slow pace of the film was essential in gripping the hearts of the viewer. So much so that towards the end when secrets are revealed and the characters are finally exposed and reveal themselves, a deep silence takes over the theater as you try to absorb the details. It was a very poignant scene and for me the best part of the film. The film is entirely in English even though it was directed by a Spanish director, Isabel Coixet.

Sarah Polley's characterization of Hanna is so believable I thought she was really from Eastern Europe. Speaking with a Serbian accent yet perfectly enunciating her words, it was gripping to watch Hanna battle with her inner demons. Her subtle and very expressive style did justice to such a simple yet very difficult role to play. She really internalized it with conviction. Tim Robbins although seen mostly lying in bed managed to deliver his lines quite well. Sometimes he was funny other times he was very serious but over all his dialogue was spot on. He managed to show his wide range simply by the use of his voice. The chemistry between Polley and Robbins was in perfect harmony.

I really recommend this beautiful movie. A poignant story about two emotionally drained characters who found love with each other and in the process found their true selves.

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