Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Rodrigo Noya, Alejandro Agresti, Julieta Cardinali, Carmen Maura, Jean Pierre Noher
Director: Alejandro Agresti
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
VALENTIN has won the coveted Audience Award at the Newport International Film Festival (2003), the Golden Calf Award at the Netherlands Film Festival (2002), and seven Argentinean Film Critics Association Awards (2004) inc... more »
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Emotional Life of a 9-Year-Old Boy.
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 10/20/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Valentin" is director Alejandro Agresti's semi-autobiographical tribute to the emotional strength of children. Valentin (Rodrigo Noya) is a 9-year-old boy living with his grandmother (Carmen Maura) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1969. His grandmother loves him, but misses her recently deceased husband desperately and complains constantly of her remaining family. Valentin dreams of being an astronaut and longs for his mother, whom he has not been allowed to see since his parents' divorce. When Valentin's ill-tempered father (Alejandro Agresti) introduces his son to Leticia (Julieta Cardinali), the latest in a long string of girlfriends, Valentin takes to her immediately, and feels that his life is looking brighter.
If "Valentin" were a little older, this might be called a coming-of-age story. Instead, it is a story of this boy's ability to adapt, to find hope in the events around him, and to advance his own cause in his own way. Valentin is an opinionated child, sometimes to the point of being bratty, but his forthrightness and sensitivity endear him to adults nonetheless. In his attempts to navigate his family situation, Valentin discovers that things are not as he thought they were. He doesn't fall into self-pity, as adults are prone to. He accepts the world the way he now sees it, changes his opinion, and sets about adjusting his agenda. His strength is his ability to adapt.
"Valentin" is an evenly paced character drama, narrated by a frank, perceptive 9-year-old. Rodrigo Noya is perfection as Valentin. His thoughts and feelings are written across his face. It's a completely honest performance. He is nuanced as well as bright and earnest. The cast deserves a lot of credit, because this is the sort of drama where, if any emotion is exaggerated, the story would become horribly sentimental. Carmen Maura and Julieta Cardinali hit just the right note, and writer/director Alejandro Agresti appears as Valentin's father. Spanish with a choice of English subtitles or English captions for the hearing impaired.
The DVD: There is a 12-minute interview, in English, with writer/director Alejandro Agresti in which he discusses the autobiographical nature of the film, its themes, and casting. The interview is interesting, and I recommend it if you like the film. But the photography is horrible. The color balance is so far off during the interview that the picture is practically orange. It wouldn't have taken much effort to fix that. There is also a theatrical trailer."
About a boy looking for a family
A.Trendl HungarianBookstore.com | Glen Ellyn, IL USA | 09/04/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I liked "Valentin."
It walks through a few weeks of a boy's life, Valentin, as he navigates his days living with a suspicious, protective grandmother. His dad is caught up in his own life, his mother is apparently found some unnamed trouble, and so Valentin is in the care of his father's mother.
It has the sweetness and romance of "Cinema Paradiso," the charm of "The Wonder Years," the subtle dramatic humor of "Lost in Yonkers," and the uncanny real-time wisdom of "Simon Birch."
His father visits whenever he falls in love, and although Valentin loves his father, he knows the relationship is, at best, casual. The father is somewhat abusive, but the point made isn't that, but how he simply is not around.
When the father meets Leticia, a young woman half his age, he introduces them. Valentin falls for her completely, while Leticia listens carefully. To him, she is mother potential. He trusts her, but she is the wiser of the two, and finds that though Valentin is an almost perfect child, his father is not.
The pianist across the street is something like Roger in "101 Dalmations," only lonelier. Valentin connects with him, as they both meet emotional needs - the pianist needs a friend, and Valentin needs a father. Through piano lessons, they become friends.
Too often, the films in other languages that are delivered to the USA are replete with messages that either too complex or too adult and controversial for a younger audience. "Valentin," from Argentina, gets it right, with an all-ages appropriate film and a classic sense of purity, without the sugarcoated politically correct Hollywood morality-wrapped-in-a-movie grotesqueness.
"Valentin" carries itself by the imagination of the viewer, who must, at times, suspend a few matters of reality. Real boys are not that wise or observant, not when they are eight. Valentin is never smarmy or has that youthful but bitter street-smart approach. Rather, he is kind and naive, wanting his world to be better, and for those around him to be happy.
I fully recommend "Valentin."
"It will get me to the moon"
Sebastian Fernandez | Tampa, Florida United States | 01/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The charm that this heartwarming movie possesses is based on two factors, the outstanding screenplay by Agresti and the unbelievable performance of a small kid that makes his debut on the big screen, Rodrigo Noya. The film depicts a series of events in Valentin's life when he was eight years old, with the kid himself narrating these events. This characteristic provides the story with an unusual freshness and candor, with the plain language used by most kids being a salient feature of this production.
Valentin lives with his grandmother (Carmen Maura) in a modest house in a barrio of Buenos Aires. He is obsessed with being an astronaut and is already practicing holding his breath, walking in the absence of gravity and dressing up in the required attire; the scene in which he puts on his home made astronaut suit is enough to make this movie worth watching. The reasons for Valentin living with his grandmother are that his mother abandoned him and his father a while back and his father is too busy to take care of him, focusing on his work and girlfriends instead. Valentin is always hoping that his mother will come back to claim him though.
Lately, I have been really lucky when picking Argentinean movies to watch, and this one was even better than others that have left me completely satisfied. The only "flaw" I found with it has to do with the English subtitles. When I started watching the film in Spanish I noticed that the language used by Valentin was very characteristic of the Rio de la Plata and was curious as to how they managed to translate it. Therefore, I turned on the English subtitles to check on this aspect, finding out that, as I suspected, there was a lot lost in the translation. The reason why I mention this as a flaw in quotes is that some things are not possible to translate. The bottom line is that the movie is still perfectly enjoyable, but you will enjoy it a little more if you understand Spanish.
In relation to the actors, as I mentioned, Rodrigo Noya is absolutely perfect for playing the role of Valentin, and Carmen Maura shows why she is one of the most renowned Spanish actresses, delivering a high level performance. It is good to see Fabian Vena back on a movie, even though it is only for a couple of minutes. Vena plays the role of Bernardo, a forward-looking priest that has no fear of challenging the establishment. We can see this clearly in the scene in which he praises the life and mourns the death of Ernesto "Che" Guevara. This scene is very important, not only for mentioning one of the most important figures in Latin American history, but also because it helps understand the climate reigning at the end of the decade of the 60s in South America.
As if the movie was not good enough by itself, this DVD includes a very insightful interview with the writer, director and actor Alejandro Agresti. It is particularly interesting to learn the answer to questions like: what is the basis for the story, why did he decide to give the main role to Rodrigo Noya, and why did he choose 1969 as the year in which the story develops. I have no other words to praise this fantastic movie; I do know though that I will surely watch it a few more times in the near future."
Sweet poignant story of little boy in Argentina in the 1960s
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 06/07/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This recent import from Argentina is about an adorable little boy who is wise beyond his years. He's only eight years old, has cross eyes and he sees his 1960's world through rose-colored glasses. Loosely based on the writer/director, Alejendro Agresti's, own boyhood, the young boy's voice-overs are sugar sweet and yet poignant observations of the world around him. Rodrigo Noya, only 7 years old when the film was made, is cast as Valentin, who lives with his grandmother who is ailing and mourning the loss of her husband. Valentin's father drops in once in a while but has forbidden the young boy to see his mother. It is not clear exactly why the father, who is a Fascist, is so bitter, and the fact that the mother is Jewish is only hinted at as one of the causes, but the young boy yearns for her constantly and his sadness about this never ceases. But along with this sadness, the film is a comedy as it looks at the foibles of grownups. The young boy manages to persuade a doctor to make a house call to his grandmother, he befriends a local bachelor musician who has just been dumped by his girlfriend, and, in some of most humorous scenes of the film, he meets one of his father's many girlfriends, who he wants desperately to marry his father, but instead manages to turn her off from the relationship. It all works out happy in the end though as the young boy plays matchmaker, discovers his mother is alive and everything seems to work out for the best. The acting, especially by the young boy, is just amazing. The story moved along well and I really got the feeling of being in Argentina. But yet the film only hints at the horrors that were going on in Argentina at the time. And the story is just too sugary to be believable. I was feeling good after seeing this film. But I was also sorry it didn't go just a little bit deeper."