Alejandro Agresti's semi-biographical film Valentin is the kind that begs audiences to like it. It is about a precocious kid who tries to help people. Aww, how cute. He wears really big glasses because he's cross-eyed. How adorable! It's the sixties, and the space race is on, and Valentin wants to be an astronaut so he makes his own spacesuit complete with helmet, oxygen tanks, and weighted shoes to practice for the gravity on the moon. So sweet! It's website from Miramax is barebones. RED FLAG! Yes, Valentin tries its best to be cute, and its protagonist (Rodrigo Noya, Dibu 3) is a bright-eyed, miniature male Amelie, but Agresti's film suffers from a case of trying to hard.

Agresti (A Night with Sabrina Love, Wind with the Gone) is clearly trying to milk the audience for as much emotion as possible. Yes, every movie does this to a certain point, but in a good film, the touchy-feely good vibes make people forget they are being toyed with. That is never the case here. It is blatantly obvious what Agresti is going for, and the realization of this ruins the gentle tone of the film. There is not much to Valentin anyways. He's just doing his best to get by. One gets the sense that making this film was therapeutic for Agresti, after all, he plays Valentin's father. Valentin is the child of a broken marriage. He lives with his grandmother (Carmen Maura, 800 Bullets, Killers on Holiday), who is aging.

Valentin is less a film than a series of vignettes. Valentin's grandmother may be sick, although she doesn't want to admit it. Valentin takes piano lessons from his neighbor Rufo (Mex Urtizberea). Valentin's parents divorced when he was young, and he has no contact with his mother. His grandmother is virulently anti-Semitic, and his mother is Jewish. She spews vile statements about her constantly to Valentin. His father visits infrequently, and when he does, he brings along his latest girlfriend, usually to use his son to try to further his relationship. Valentin is particularly taken with Leticia (Julieta Cardinali, A Night with Sabrina Love), who, truth be told, is stunning. However, he tends to talk a little too much, and she is turned off by how he describes his father. When she doesn't return, Valentin is heartbroken.

And so Valentin goes. Nothing really interesting happens, but at the same time the film is not dull. The anti-Semitism is the only offensive material in the film, but as Agresti portrays it, Valentin knows it is wrong. Even his occasional cussing is played for cuteness. It meanders along, until the disparate threads begin to come together in a very obvious way. Noya is one of those child actors cast primarily because of his ability to be cute. This is a very light, superficial movie that will make some people smile, then when it's over they will promptly forget everything about it.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 26 minutes, Spanish with English subtitles, Rateg PG-13 for some thematic elements and languague.

Back to Movies