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SECRETS OF THE HEART

Spain, 1996 (MIFF 1997, Made in Spain)

Director: Montxo Armendáriz Barrios

Part suspense, part getting of wisdom, Mon­txo Armendariz Barrios's film takes place in a Spanish village during the mid-60s. Victims of a terrible crime committed long ago haunt a coun­try house: their voices tremble through a locked room and echo in the cellar. So begins nine year old Javi's first brush with the other world.

Javi convinces his friend Carlos to accompany him on an investigation. Meanwhile, an eerie symmetry takes shape; Javi and brother Juan spend Easter at their aunts', the very house where their father's dead body was discovered. It too has a locked room. Intrigued by this enig­matic world, Javi will maintain his search for the mysteries that it conceals.

Barrios maintains a delicate tension as the action unfolds. An appealing character who holds our sympathies throughout, Javi is thrust into the adult world of lies and passion, love and death. Will the ghost of his father unburden him­self of long-interred secrets? How are the two mysteries intertwined? Poles apart from, for example, the trademark Flamboyance of country­man Almodovar or the anarchic surrealism of a Bunuel, Secrets of the Heart is another kind of Spanish delight.

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