SECRET LIFE OF WORDS, THE: DVD
A victim of the Bosnian conflict, Hanna (Sarah Polley), attempts to recover from her traumatic struggle. Rendered near-deaf and emotionally fragile, Hanna migrates to the UK where she finds work in a factory. Having worked solidly for four years without holidays or sick days, the monotony of Hanna's lonely life is interrupted when the factory's union forces her to take a vacation, and she travels to Northern Ireland. Terrified at the prospect of being left with her nightmarish thoughts, she volunteers to nurse a burns victim on an oil rig. As Hanna tends to the blinded Josef (Tim Robbins), she keeps the traumatic details of her life guarded. But as time on the isolated rig passes, Hanna finds herself drawn to her patient, somehow managing to confide the terrible secrets of her past.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
As the opening credits roll and we see the card, 'Augustin and Pedro Almodóvar present', we are entitled to feel that we are in good hands as Isabel Coixet's film begins. If Pedro has a hand in it, the subject matter is bound to be compelling, resonant with the human condition. Heartache is guaranteed. And so it is in The Secret Life of Words, a strangely beautiful film about an ugly memory that Hanna (Sarah Polley) carries for the rest of her life.
Polley is outstanding as the young Balkan refugee living - or at least going through the motions - in the West. Not only is her accent so refined it doesn't even register that she is English, but her characterisation is so complete that we feel we know and understand her. As much as we can, anyway, without having experienced the horrors she has been through.
Tim Robbins is a good choice for the man whose wounds are more physical, and whose compassion stirs a deeper feeling in him - ultimately changing him. And triggering a remedial change in Hanna, whose self imposed isolation served as a shield against her trauma.
A Pedro favourite actor, Javier Camara, plays Simon the chef on the oil rig (symbolically isolated from the world), making something special out of the character with his warmth and sincerity. All the supporting cast make an impression, and the location serves to heighten the experience. Not surprisingly, the film won a stack of awards and nominations - and should enjoy a long life, marking Isabel Coixet as a director to watch.
Published July 31, 2008
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SECRET LIFE OF WORDS, THE: DVD (M)
CAST: Sarah Polley, Tim Robbins, Sverre Ousdal, Javier Camara, Danny Cunningham, Dedan Lenox Kelly, Emmanuel Idowu, Steven Mackintosh, Julie Christie,
PRODUCER: Esther Garcia, Brendan J. Byrne
DIRECTOR: Isabel Coixet
SCRIPT: Isabel Coixet
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jean Claude Larrieu
EDITOR: Irene Blecua
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Pierre-Francois Limbosch
RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes
PRESENTATION: 16:9; DD 5.1; DD 2.0
SPECIAL FEATURES: trailer
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
DVD RELEASE: June 11, 2008