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Valentin: About a boy looking for a family (review)

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."

Anthony Trendl
editor, http://hungarianbookstore.com/

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