Javi and his friend Carlos snoop around an old house on the way home from school. According to his brother Juan this is a haunted house and one can hear the voices of the dead. Later he is ...
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Rafael witnesses Marina - a woman with a glass eye - being attacked on the street by Daniel; her long-time acquaintance since the orphanage, where they were both raised as kids. He rescues ... See full summary »
Escaping gangsters trying to kill her because of being witness to a crime, Gloria (Victoria Abril), a young woman of lower class, comes back to Madrid, Spain and to her family. There she ... See full summary »
Agustín Díaz Yanes
A member of the ETA terrorist organization belongs to a commando which is preparing an outrage in Madrid. But he sets other priorities when he meets a girl who is addicted to drugs and for ... See full summary »
Paulino and Carmela are husband and wife, troubadours touring the countryside during the Spanish Civil War. They are Republicans, and with their mute assistant, Gustavete, they journey into... See full summary »
Maria, whose parents live in the country, cannot stand her father's authoritarian ways and moves to the city. She finds a job as a cleaner and tries to survive in a wretched apartment in ... See full summary »
19-year-old Argentina Martin has a nearly fatal drug overdose. After that his mother sends him to Madrid, where his film director father (also called Martin) lives with his new much younger lover Alicia and gay actor friend Dante.
Juan Diego Botto,
El Bola, a 12 year old boy a.k.a. "Pellet" is a 12 year old boy raised in a violent and sordid environment. Embarrassed by his family life, he avoids becoming close to classmates. The ... See full summary »
Juan José Ballesta,
For Moncho, it's an idyllic year: he starts school, he has a wonderful teacher, he makes a friend in Roque, he begins to figure out some of the mysteries of Eros, and, with his older ... See full summary »
José Luis Cuerda
Fernando Fernán Gómez,
Javi and his friend Carlos snoop around an old house on the way home from school. According to his brother Juan this is a haunted house and one can hear the voices of the dead. Later he is intrigued with a room which is always closed (the room where his father was found dead). He is so interested in these mysteries that he starts to investigate all the secrets of these dead people and their stories. Written by
Marcos Eduardo Acosta Aldrete
Extraordinary child actor Andoni Erburu is the soul of this sensitive, rewarding film
"Secretos del Corazón", is a sensitive, delicate, touching film made by one of the most talented Spanish filmmakers, the Basque Montxo Armendáriz. Perhaps the most impressive thing about it is how shrewdly Armendáriz captures the web of guilt, fear and repression of 1960s Spain, when the omnipresence of ponderous Catholic rituals and rigid moral codes translated the oppression of Franco's dictatorship to perfection.
We follow 9-year-old Javi (Andoni Erburu), an intelligent, naive, over-protected, sensitive kid learning to deal with the harsh process of growing up and overcoming his many fears (of crossing a stream, of an old empty house, of ghosts, of big bullies in school, of the dark, of school punishment, of losing his mother's love), discovering "shocking" family secrets and the raw truths of life (sex, death, violence, lies), facing the bewilderment of asking something to adults and not having honest answers back, or not being able to understand them. If you've been raised in a Latin Catholic country, you can relate even more closely to "Secretos del Corazón": a sort of education that -- as Javi's wise grandfather says -- never teaches children anything about the really important facts of life.
Everything in "Secreto" is skilfully accomplished: the cast is uniformly inspired, with Charo López as the liberal-minded aunt Maria and Joan Vallés as the stern grandfather especially fine. The costumes and set design take you right back to 1960s Spain, the plot unravels quietly and harmoniously so that when the big "revelation" comes it doesn't seem contrived. But above all, the triumph belongs to director Armendáriz's enormous sensibility and his extraordinary child actor Andoni Erburu, with his sad Pierrot face (somewhat reminiscent of Isabelle Adjani's), his toothy shyness, big curious eyes and emotional transparency that covers a large spectrum, but is never "cute" or maudlin -- it's a wonderful, natural, unforgettable performance, with a kind of innocence that's so hard to find today it drives you right back to another era (Erburu is from a rural Basque background), and can only be compared to Ana Torrent's fabulous performances in the 1970s for Saura and Erice. He deservedly won a collection of awards with this role, including the Goya and the Spanish Acting Guild Award for Best Newcomer.
I liked this film so much I asked a friend to buy the DVD in Spain (unfortunately no one could find it in New York - hello DVD stores! - this was an Academy Award nominee for best foreign film!), so I can watch it again from time to time. If you like a well-told story sensitively directed and acted, and aren't frightened by moderato pace, you'll find "Secretos del Corazón" richly rewarding. It makes, with Carlos Saura's haunting "Cría Cuervos" and Victor Erice's spell-binding "El Espíritu de la Colmena", an incomparable triptych of studies on childhood, loss of innocence, sexual repression and moral/religious/political oppression under Franco's Spain. Don't miss it.
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