Julieta Cardinali as Leticia
Carmen Maura as Abuela
Jean Pierre Noher as El tío Chiche
Mex Urtizberea as Rufo
Rodrigo Noya as Valentín
Alejandro Agresti as El padre
Carlos Roffé as Dr. Galaburri
Lorenzo Quinteros as Hombre del bar
Marina Glezer as La maestra
Stéfano Di Gregorio as Roberto
Fabián Vena as El cura
Interview with the Director
Widescreen (1.85:1) Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Original Spanish Language Track
Running Time: 83 Minutes
This film was made in Argentina and was originally released in 2002.
In the 1960’s, Valentin is a young boy living with his Grandmother. His mother had an affair and was run off by Valentin’s father when he was 3. His father is rarely around, too, and when he does show up he arrives with an array of different girlfriends. Despite longing for a stable family, Valentin consoles himself with his school friends, a piano player friend that lives next door, and dreams of becoming an astronaut.
However, when his father starts dating Leticia, he realizes that his dreams of having a new mother may come true. Leticia is nice, beautiful, and caring towards Valentin. Can Valentin keep his father and Leticia together or will this be yet another failed relationship?
“Valentin” is rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and language.
I typically don’t like foreign language films and Valentin was no exception. I found it to be slow, pointless, depressing, and it featured an unsatisfying ending. It is pretty much a character drama that follows the sad life of Valentin. You see him abused by his father, criticized by his grandmother, and ultimately cast aside by his family while maintaining a rosy outlook on life. It is really a downer and I kept expecting Valentin to start singing “Tomorrow” like Little Orphan Annie at any moment. If you watch the bonus features on this DVD, you discover that director Alejandro Agresti based part of this movie on experiences from his own broken childhood. That knowledge makes it all the more apparent that the film is largely Agresti working out his childhood traumas on the big screen.
Newcomer Rodrigo Noya is pretty good as Valentín. He works the cute factor into overdrive with his cross-eyed stare and big glasses. He plays the role with a maturity that seems beyond his years. He is supported by Carmen Maura as his grandmother. She is loving and frustrating at the same time. In one moment she cares for Valentin, the next she criticizes his mother and father. Despite the mixed messages, she is still likable. Julieta Cardinali is also beautiful and caring as Leticia. It’s easy to see why Valentin would be smitten with her.
There are moments here and there in the film that I think I would have appreciated more if I was more familiar with Argentinean culture. For example, they go on and on about how bad Valentin’s mother is because she is Jewish. I didn’t realize anti-Semitism was prevalent in Argentina in the 60’s. In another scene a priest gives a sermon about a murdered doctor in the mountains which upsets some church members. I didn’t understand the significance of this and how it applied to the plot. There were other things like that here and there in the film that went right past me.
I mentioned that the film also had an unsatisfying ending. The ultimate fate of Valentin’s mother was never clear to me. I also didn’t follow where Valentin ended up after the story concluded. In short, I thought the film had a lot of loose ends.
If you like character dramas or foreign films, you’ll probably enjoy Valentin. I don’t think this is a film for mainstream audiences, though.
There is only one extra on this DVD and it’s an interview with director Alejandro Agresti. He talks about how this film was based on some of his childhood experiences. He also discusses how he cast the characters and other issues surrounding the making of the film. It gave me a little more insight into what he was trying to do with the movie, but it didn’t make me like it any more.
The Bottom Line:
Valentin is probably going to be most enjoyed by foreign film enthusiasts and those that like character dramas. Mainstream audiences should probably skip it.