12 March 2008

MR - The Secret Life of Words

Movie Review - The Secret Life of Words aka "La vida secreta de las palabras"

This is such an odd movie. I don't quite know how to describe it.

Sarah Polley plays Hannah a typical factory worker (rote, repetitive tasks) completely cut off from the world around her.

Having been forced to take her first holiday in several years, she "offers" to care for a burned man on an oil rig (played by the incomparable Tim Robbins). This begins a series of improbable events: 1) an uncertified nurse caring for a burned oil-rig worker, 2) said care taking place on an oil rig in the sea, and 3) the oil rig being nearly devoid of entities following a major accident on the rig (in which one worker has died and one worker got burned).

IRL: the company would not have taken the liability of 1, nor left the patient on the rig for 2. And safety officials, inspectors, and miscellaneous other individuals would have been swarming that rig for 3.

I think I could have overlooked any one misstep, but all three really stretched my ability to "suspend disbelief and immerse myself" in the story. Yes, I am sure these decisions were made to create the "mood," but I can think of more believable/plausible directions.

In any event, the skeleton rig crew and irascible patient eventually cajole Hannah into revealing some secrets to her past.

(hint ... thanks to snippets in the beginning, middle, and ending, we know that Hannah shares the same diagnosis as the famous "Sybil" - aka Shirley Ardell Mason and "Eve" - Chris Costner Sizemore ... still lost? How about The Hulk, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, or the biblical "Legion.")

It is a sad story with a "fairly" happy ending. You hear about torture and genocide. You hear the typical butchering of a foreign accent. You hear "silence."

This is a slow, deliberate movie. It does not plod along, but it should not be watched by a restless mind.

Do I recommend it? Hm, if only for the atmosphere created by the director, actors, and budget.

Sarah Polley, last seen in "Beowulf & Grendel"
Tim Robbins, last seen in "The War of the Worlds"
Julie Christie, last seen in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" and "Troy" (I can't remember which one was more recent)
Eddie Marsan, last seen in "Beowulf & Grendel"
Steven Mackinstosh, last seen in "Underworld: Evolution"
Reg Wilson, last seen in "The Machinist"

Yes, I really do spend a percentage of each movie saying, "Where have I seen that actor before?" Sometimes it's days before I figure the part out.

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