The Secret Life of Words
|The Secret Life of Words|
|Directed by||Isabel Coixet|
|Produced by||Pedro Almodóvar
|Written by||Isabel Coixet|
|Music by||Hal Hartley|
|Editing by||Irene Blecua|
|Running time||115 min.|
|Box office||$6,410,058 (INT)|
The Secret Life of Words is a 2005 Spanish film, directed by Isabel Coixet and starring Sarah Polley and Tim Robbins. The film was released on December 15, 2006 and grossed a worldwide total of $6,410,058.
Taciturn, partially deaf Hanna (Polley) is a Yugoslavian native working in a factory in Denmark. She is forced to take a vacation by her boss, who tells her that her co-workers have been offended by her lack of socializing. After overhearing a conversation about a need for a nurse, she takes on a job as private nurse for burn victim Josef (Robbins). He is bedridden on an offshore oil rig after a fire on the rig, and has severe burns and is temporarily blinded. The rig is not operational awaiting an investigation, and few people remain on board.
Hanna talks very little, and especially does not want to talk about herself. Despite his pain, Josef is constantly making jokes, some of them humorous sexual advances. Hanna's care for him includes holding the urinal and washing his entire body. As they get closer, they start sharing their experiences. Unbeknownst to him, she listens over and over again to a message on his cell phone from a mysterious woman who was in love with him.
Hanna learns from a colleague that Josef was injured while trying to save a man who committed suicide by intentionally throwing himself into the oil-rig fire. Some other tragic connection between the two men is implied. He tells about a near-drowning experience because he cannot swim. Eventually Josef confides to Hanna his greatest secret guilt, and she tells him about her previous life in the former Yugoslavia. She describes in detail the horrors she endured during the Balkan Wars (Yugoslav Wars), including being kidnapped and repeatedly raped. She tells of her own repeated torture and lets him feel the scars on her body from the wounds inflicted on her.
Josef is not getting better, and at Hanna's initiative he is air-lifted off the oil rig to be taken to a hospital. When the helicopter lands, Josef wants Hanna to accompany him, but she walks away without a word. However, she leaves behind a backpack (apparently intentionally), and it contains enough information to give Josef a chance to find her. After he recovers, Josef travels to Denmark to visit a counselor that Hanna had seen after fleeing the war, seeking to learn more about her. He then tracks her down at the factory in Northern Ireland where she works. They talk, and at first she keeps her distance, saying she couldn't be with him because she thinks one day she could drown them both in her sorrow. When he tells her that he will "learn to swim," she reciprocates the love.
The title of the film is about how words can transmit much more than they say. The secret world of each character is hidden but carried to each other by words.
Awards and nominations
The film was nominated for five Goya Awards and won four of them, including best film of the year:
- Won: Best Director (Isabel Coixet)
- Won: Best Film
- Won: Best Original Screenplay (Isabel Coixet)
- Won: Best Production Supervision (Esther García)
- Nominated: Best Supporting Actor (Javier Cámara)
|Sverre Anker Ousdal||Dimitri|
|Steven Mackintosh||Doctor Sulitzer|
|Dean Lennox Kelly||Liam|
- The Secret Life of Words at the Internet Movie Database
- The Secret Life of Words at AllMovie
- The Secret Life of Words at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Secret Life of Words at Box Office Mojo