Secrets of the Heart | Chicago Reader

Secrets of the Heart

The child's-eye view has long been the forte of Spanish cinema, and that is the perspective from which Montxo Armendariz Barrios's Secrets of the Heart views life in provincial Spain in the early 60s. For nine-year-old Javi and his older brother, almost all knowledge is a secret. It must be ferreted out, intuited, or pieced together from odd bits of information, attitudes, gestures. The most important secrets usually involve sex and death—occasionally separately, more often together. They come from the past and weave themselves into everyday objects, corners and crevices of the present. What's fascinating in this film is that the revelation of even the most potentially devastating secret—a father's suicide, a mother's infidelity, a neighbor's spousal abuse—when shared and actively puzzled out, becomes an integral part of growing up. It's a very nonjudgmental view, quite different from the movie's “official” version of sin and punishment—the class play, in which students who cut classes get attacked by wolves in the woods. In Spanish with subtitles. 105 min.

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