Secrets of the Heart

1997 [SPANISH]


Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN

Top cast

720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
956.42 MB
Spanish 2.0
25 fps
1 hr 44 min
P/S 7 / 25
1.92 GB
Spanish 5.1
25 fps
1 hr 44 min
P/S 15 / 27

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by debblyst8 / 10

Extraordinary child actor Andoni Erburu is the soul of this sensitive, rewarding film

"Secretos del Corazón", is a sensitive, delicate, touching film made by one of the most talented Spanish filmmakers, the Basque Montxo Armendáriz. Perhaps the most impressive thing about it is how shrewdly Armendáriz captures the web of guilt, fear and repression of 1960s Spain, when the omnipresence of ponderous Catholic rituals and rigid moral codes translated the oppression of Franco's dictatorship to perfection.

We follow 9-year-old Javi (Andoni Erburu),an intelligent, naive, over-protected, sensitive kid learning to deal with the harsh process of growing up and overcoming his many fears (of crossing a stream, of an old empty house, of ghosts, of big bullies in school, of the dark, of school punishment, of losing his mother's love),discovering "shocking" family secrets and the raw truths of life (sex, death, violence, lies),facing the bewilderment of asking something to adults and not having honest answers back, or not being able to understand them. If you've been raised in a Latin Catholic country, you can relate even more closely to "Secretos del Corazón": a sort of education that -- as Javi's wise grandfather says -- never teaches children anything about the really important facts of life.

Everything in "Secreto" is skilfully accomplished: the cast is uniformly inspired, with Charo López as the liberal-minded aunt Maria and Joan Vallés as the stern grandfather especially fine. The costumes and set design take you right back to 1960s Spain, the plot unravels quietly and harmoniously so that when the big "revelation" comes it doesn't seem contrived. But above all, the triumph belongs to director Armendáriz's enormous sensibility and his extraordinary child actor Andoni Erburu, with his sad Pierrot face (somewhat reminiscent of Isabelle Adjani's),his toothy shyness, big curious eyes and emotional transparency that covers a large spectrum, but is never "cute" or maudlin -- it's a wonderful, natural, unforgettable performance, with a kind of innocence that's so hard to find today it drives you right back to another era (Erburu is from a rural Basque background),and can only be compared to Ana Torrent's fabulous performances in the 1970s for Saura and Erice. He deservedly won a collection of awards with this role, including the Goya and the Spanish Acting Guild Award for Best Newcomer.

I liked this film so much I asked a friend to buy the DVD in Spain (unfortunately no one could find it in New York - hello DVD stores! - this was an Academy Award nominee for best foreign film!),so I can watch it again from time to time. If you like a well-told story sensitively directed and acted, and aren't frightened by moderato pace, you'll find "Secretos del Corazón" richly rewarding. It makes, with Carlos Saura's haunting "Cría Cuervos" and Victor Erice's spell-binding "El Espíritu de la Colmena", an incomparable triptych of studies on childhood, loss of innocence, sexual repression and moral/religious/political oppression under Franco's Spain. Don't miss it.

Reviewed by jotix1007 / 10

I've got a secret for the director...

This film by Montxo Armendariz did not get wide distribution in the US. It certainly is a much better film than recent arrivals from Europe and it deserved to have been seen by a wider audience.

This is a world seen by the eyes of Javi, who cannot comprehend the many secrets the adults in the family hide from him and the older brother. Everything that on the surface seems to be one way, mean something entirely different when kept away from the inquisitive mind of the young boy. He senses the dishonesty behind all the adults who cannot bring themselves to tell the truth to the boy, even though he is on the right track.

The young actor Andoni Erburu is the best thing going throughout the film. He has a very expressive face, with eyes that sparkle and tell a lot of what's going on in his mind. All the adults lie to him about the real tragedy around him. They all conspire in hiding from the children what they only can guess.

The cast is well balanced. Carmelo Lopez is only seen on a few scenes, even though he's one of the pivotal figures in this story. In general all the actors are very subdued in playing their parts, obviously under the tight rein of Mr. Armendariz, who up to now has made films that are utterly uncommercial, at least, the type to attract a wider audience, and he proves with this film that he can make them as well as some of the other good directors from Spain. Let's hope he leaves the themes of the Civil War behind and start telling us other "secrets" that have the haunting qualities of this film.

Reviewed by judith3284 / 10

unfortunate little boy !

I won't comment on the performing (very good),this commentary is focused on the story itself (beware, the full plot is disclosed)

"Secrets of the heart" ("Secretos del Corazon") is a film about a little boy, Javi, who has the misfortune of being born in an awful family who are all tormented or frustrated people.

On his mother's side he has two aunts. One is an alcoholic who finally manages to flee with a lover, bringing therefore disgrace to her family, given the moral standards of most occidental societies at the moment. His other aunt is a spinster, bitter and puritan.

His uncle (his father's only brother) and his widowed mother live in the same house with the grandfather and are secret lovers. They are eventually forced to get married when she gets pregnant.

His deceased father, who supposedly died by accident while cleaning a fire weapon, actually fired himself when he discovered the adultery of his wife with his own brother. We later learn that Javi was in fact the result of this adultery.

And the last adult member of such a troubled family is the grandfather, who seems the only well balanced member of it, if it hadn't been for his daughter-in-law bringing pain and death to his home. He is bitter about this, but tries to keep silence as he is no longer the head of family.

The rest of this film's universe is not much happier. Javi's best fried for example, loses his mother, an unhappy event in itself, but in addition to this it's a suicide (a rather common way to die in this film). As if this was not enough, the reason for her suicide is her alcoholic husband constantly beating her and her children.

We are also introduced to various local customs, Some of which are a bit shocking. Like when adults and children start making very hard noise with hands and/or objects at church (I'm sure that music would have much better softened these people's hearts) or when children are encouraged by adults to lapidate a human size doll hung from a tree by the neck. The doll is made with straw and dressed as a man. When the children finish throwing stones (that rip the doll's clothes and let the straw to be seen through) an adult sets fire to the doll. Everybody, children and adults, watch this sort of popular lynching with joy. Quite disturbing.

In this environment we witness this little boy progressively lose not only his innocence but also his principles. When Javy discovered that his uncle went each night to his mother's bed, Javy lost his appetite. At the film's end, when he discovers that his true father is actually his uncle, he seems quite happy. Looking at a photo of his parents, he addresses the man he has grown loving as his father as "uncle Antonio", while he smiles.

Along the film, Javy learns to lie and deceive in a cold and calculated way, for his own purposes (getting his brother a part in the school play at the expense of another boy),as in his young mind there are no longer moral limits.

He seems to feel reassured by overhearing his mother admiratively talking about him to her lover: "This child is like you : he gets whatever he wants", which is surely the least that could be said about his uncle's stealing his brother's wife. The lack of remorse for the high price payed for it (the life loss, orphanhood and family shame) has a parallel in Javi's absolute lack of remorse when deceiving by the end of the film.

One wonders how would things have been had this child grown up in a less tortuous family. But I don't agree that the film points out religious repression or politics as the source of all this unhappiness.

The biggest of all these "secrets" so bitterly kept in these people hearts is undoubtedly the true reason for Javy's father death.

And Javy's father didn't commit suicide because law, society or religion condemn adultery, but because he discovered that his wife and his only brother had both betrayed him. The pain of realizing this could be even harder if he sincerely loved them both.

Love and betrayal are universal and eternal, and have very little to do with religion, and certainly nothing to do at all with politics.

As a note, it's a common mistake to say that Armendariz is Basque while he is actually from Navarra, another Spanish province near one of the Basque provinces. Probably the reason for this error is that his films are frequently about Basque topics.

Read more IMDb reviews