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DVD Review: Alejandro Agresti’s Valentín on Miramax Home Entertainment

I love the color blue on the DVD cover, but were the haloes, not to mention the tagline “Cupid Just Turned Eight,” really necessary?



Set in 1969 around the time of Che Guevara’s death in nearby Bolivia, Argentinian crowd-pleaser Valentín is Alejandro Agresti’s autobiographical account of growing up in Buenos Aires with his grandmother after his mother’s disappearance. Eight-year-old Valentín (Rodrigo Noya) is an old soul, a fact that non-native speakers may not comprehend if they can’t connect with the nuanced inflection of young Noya’s delivery. His is a performance of effortless grace, and it’s one that easily transcends the film’s otherwise saccharine tone.

Valentín is a boy clearly trying to make sense of the world, so it’s probably no surprise that he dreams of becoming an astronaut. And because he believes that the planets are seemingly out of whack, he spends much of his time orchestrating a series of meet-cutes: He brings a doctor, Galaburri (Carlos Roffé), to his curmudgeonly grandmother (Carmen Maura) and he sets up one of his father’s ex-girlfriends, Leticia (Julieta Cardinali), with the man across the street, Rufo ((Mex Urtizberea), who teaches him how to play the piano.

Some critics have already mistaken Valentín’s eloquence for something cloying, but this is a child who’s genuinely curious about the world (most kids this alone usually are). Precocious? Yes. But like any other child, he’s uninterested in politics (or, for that matter, anything that doesn’t directly revolve around him) and confused by his father’s (played by Agresti) hatred of Jews. And though he plays Cupid several times across the film’s running time, he doesn’t really understand the laws of attraction that keep men and women together or apart.

This is a year in the life of a little drama queen who just wants to make it to another. “Se acabo esa parte de mi vida,” he says at one point, referring to a time in his life that he simultaneously wishes and fears to leave behind. Valentín sometimes feels less like a film than a really good sitcom that isn’t afraid to leave things a little untidy. When Valentín successfully negotiates a romantic entanglement, you know that he might just make it after all. That the heartfelt resolution syncs so perfectly with Armstong’s landing on the moon is merely icing on the cake.


Though grainy as hell, the image on this Valentín DVD is still very good: Colors are seductive and blacks are very deep, even if contrast leaves a little to be desired. The Dolby Digital surround sound ensures that the precocious Rodrigo Noya’s voice is crystal clear throughout.


The film’s theatrical trailer and a 12-minute interview with director Alejandro Argesti, who discusses the autobiographical aspects of Valentín and how he built the story of the film around the memory of having spent a lovely afternoon with one of his father’s girlfriends when he was a child. Rounding out the disc are previews for Finding Neverland and The Big One.


I love the color blue on the DVD cover, but were the haloes, not to mention the tagline “Cupid Just Turned Eight,” really necessary?

Cast: Rodrigo Noya, Carmen Maura, Alejandro Agresti, Julieta Cardinali, Jeanne Pierre Noher, Mex Urtizberea, Lorenzo Quinteros, Carlos Roffé Director: Alejandro Agresti Screenwriter: Alejandro Agresti Distributor: Miramax Home Entertainment Running Time: 83 min Rating: PG-13 Year: 2002 Release Date: October 12, 2004 Buy: Video

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