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July 30, 2007 | by  | in Film |
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The Secret Life of Words

Few films have the power of The Secret Life of Words. It’s a bit of an anomaly, a Spanish film, shot in Ireland and featuring Eastern European and American protagonists. Hanna (Sarah Polley), an Irish factory worker, seems to do little more than exist. She works, sits apart at lunch and eats rice, chicken nuggets and apples, and does little else. Forced to take a holiday, she overhears a conversation and volunteers to nurse burnt worker Josef (Tim Robbins) on an oil rig on the North Sea. What follows is beautifully evoked by director Isabel Coixet. Hanna is initially withdrawn and silent, refusing to tell Josef or any of the others on the rig about herself, but eventually, in the isolated environment, her shell begins to crack and we learn more about her as the film progresses. Josef and the other characters, each superbly drawn and acted, have their own surprising secrets which, like Hanna’s, twist to the surface and make the film at once subtle and compelling. At the climax is Hanna’s confession; harrowing, shocking and pressingly made. If you see only one film this year, make it this one. The only thing the film made me regret is how rare it is for a filmmaker to get it so achingly right.


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Comments (3)

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  1. Dave Elborn says:

    This sounds like another excellant movie which hopefully will be screened on general release and if it is I will definately go and see it.
    With an interesting mixture of nationallities involved it begs the question what part did this contribute to the success of this movie?Did this paradox shine through?

  2. Evee says:

    Gay title though.

  3. Joey says:

    What’s homosexual about it?

    Why is a mix of nationalities a “paradox”? Stoopid monkey.

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