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In 1967 Buenos Aires, eight year old Valentín lives alone with his poor widowed paternal grandmother. He has not seen his mother since he was three. His grandmother tells him that his mother was unfaithful to his father. Regardless, Valentín still misses her. His womanizing father, Vincente, is on the most part absent as a traveling salesman, he who seems more concerned about his own fortunes than sending money home to take care of his mother and son. Valentín has dreams like most young boys, his primary one being to become an astronaut. He believes the work that he does building rocket models and space suits will assist the NASA space program, and he does whatever he can, such as walk around in heavy shoes to simulate zero gravity and hold his breath underwater, in his pursuit of becoming an astronaut, despite being slightly cross-eyed and near-sighted, which he believes will not hinder his chances. But without really realizing it, he wants more than anything to be part of a nuclear ... Written by
Hollywood filmmakers could learn plenty from this marvelous little film from Argentina.
Rodrigo Noya is utterly charming and captivating as the title character, a 9-year-old boy who builds stuff for astronauts and whose attitude toward life and love is more adult than many of the adults in his life, including his father.
Director Alejandro Agresti's script is clever, humorous and poignant, yet, never becomes maudlin. Even a key moment in the story is deftly handled without an ounce of sentimentality. A Hollywood film most likely would have milked that scene dry with a melodramatic score and character histrionics.
"Valentín" is a celebration of childhood innocence. But it's also about how lessons learned as a young boy shape the adult man he is to become. There are moments in this film written so smartly you appreciate Agresti's talent. For instance, Valentin's scenes with Leticia are funny because of the way the two actors play the scenes so naturally, their dialogue and actions make perfect sense. Or, listen to the conversation between Valentin and his neighbor when they discuss the neighbor's ex-girlfriend over a cup of tea.
And the film's ending? A perfect close to a lovely story. Do yourself a favor and see this brilliant gem.
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