Valentin (Valentín) Made in: Argentina Language: Spanish Director: Alejandro Agresti Starring: Carmen Maura, Rodrigo Noya, Mex Urtizberea, Julieta Cardinali, Alejandro Agresti, Jean Pierre Noher Year: 2002
Synopsis: It's the late 60s in Buenos Aires. A bright eight year-old boy (Rodrigo Noya) named Valentín lives with his neurotic but loving grandmother (Carmen Maura) in a modest apartment.
His mother left his philandering father (played by director Alejandro Agresti), who visits occasionally, but only to use poor Valentín as bait for snagging new girlfriends.
The only somewhat-stable influences in his life are his Uncle Chiche (Jean Pierre Noher), and his neighbor Rufo (Mex Urtizberea), an eccentric pianist with a thing for gin. Talkative, intelligent, but also oblivious to the complexity of grown-up issues, Valentín sets out to solve the problems of those around him with funny and sometimes surprising results.
Things come to a head when he befriends Leticia (Julieta Cardinali), his father's latest squeeze.
Remarks: Funny, sad, and genuinely moving, Valentin is a brilliantly made coming-of-age tale. It's truly fascinating to watch the story develop through the eyes of the young protagonist as he tries to make sense of grown-up problems.
Rodrigo Noya isn't cast as a cute kid to make older people laugh. This is very much a film aimed at adults, and how a child's point of view and advice on relationships, love, and personal problems can be both brutally honest and unexpectedly wise.
One of the greatest things about this film is that Noya's character doesn't go around trying to be cute. He takes himself completely seriously, and only comes across as lovable because he comes up with answers that are smarter than he realizes. Genuinely emotional and never melodramatic, Alejandro Agresti creates a substantive, satisfying drama.
Who would like this movie: Although the themes and story won't be lost on anyone, Valentin is better geared towards those who already appreciate foreign films. Fans of the versatile Carmen Maura will also enjoy this movie, as she is simply terrific as the protagonist's intense grandmother.