About the nicest things that can be said about this cloying Argentine comedy about a motherless boy who meddles in the affairs of the adults around him are that Almodovar star Carmen Maura plays a lonely widow and the 1960s period detail is nearly perfect. Eight-year-old Valentin (Rodrigo Noya) dreams of one day becoming an astronaut even though he's so...read more
About the nicest things that can be said about this cloying Argentine comedy about a motherless boy who meddles in the affairs of the adults around him are that Almodovar star Carmen Maura plays a lonely widow and the 1960s period detail is nearly perfect. Eight-year-old Valentin (Rodrigo Noya) dreams of one day becoming an astronaut even though he's so nearsighted he needs Coke-bottle lenses to see (and has a voice so grating he could probably shatter them with one well-timed shout). He lives with his poor, widowed grandmother, Abuela (Maura), in a dark Buenos Aries apartment, but Valentin isn't an orphan: His mother left when Valentin was only three, and his rich father, Vincente (Alejandro Agresti, who also directed the film), is more interested in maintaining a steady stream of beautiful girlfriends than raising his son. Each time he brings a new girl around, Vincente whispers that this one might turn out to be Valentin's new mother, but the boy never sees the same woman twice. Valentin's school chum Roberto (Stefano Di Gregorio), his uncle Chiche (Jean Pierre Noher), with whom Valentin likes to discuss "manly" things, and Rufo (Mex Urtizberea), his alcoholic piano instructor who has just been dumped by his girlfriend, are all far more dependable than Vincente and his beauties. Valentin's attitude towards his father's girlfriends changes when he's forced to spend the afternoon with Leticia (Julieta Cardinali), a stunning blonde whom Vincente has begun dating. With little hope of every being reunited with his mother and no faith in his father, Valentin sets about building a new family for himself around Leticia, while navigating the messy lives adults make for themselves. While there's little to be gained from over-critiquing a child's performance, it must be said that director Alejandro Agresti badly miscalculates his young star's appeal; the fact that Noya not only dominates each scene but also provides the film's narration means there's no getting away from the grating kid. And he's not the only problem. Neither Vincente nor Abuela is a particularly attractive character and it's hard to feel any sympathy for either one of them; both are casually anti-Semitic and Abuela is hard put to find a nice word for anyone. It's only when Agresti sets Valentin's machinations within the context of Argentina's turbulent history that the film works at all. When the local priest (Fabian Vena) incites his congregation by daring to praise Che Guevara just days after the leftist revolutionary's murder, the movie becomes almost interesting.
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