The Secret Life Of Words

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Year: 2005

Writer: Isabel Coixet

Director: Isabel Coixet

Budget: $5 million (estimated)

Gross: $20 023

i came to watch this movie by complete chance.  i had tivo'd a different movie on my television, but when i went to watch that film The Secret Life Of Words started to play.  i didn't know anything about it, except for the fact that sarah polley and tim robbins were the stars, and, to be honest, i wasn't really in the mood to watch a slow drama (the film i had been expecting to watch was more of a drama comedy farce).  however, from the moment the film started and the opening credits emerged, with words subliminally appearing within the moments between, and before, the cast and crew's names formed on the screen, i was hooked.

The Secret Life Of Words is about hannah, a hearing impaired factory worker (polley) who is forced to take her first holiday in years and ends up traveling out to an oil rig, where she cares for a man, josef, suffering from severe burns who is also temporarily blind (robbins).  there are six other people on the rig, which has been shut down due to the accident that led to josef's injuries.

we learn right from the beginning that there is something going on with hannah.  we don't know what it is, but watching her quiet, routine, solitary and very organized rituals we get a sense that there is something more to her story.

while that is put out there from the beginning, the film doesn't play like a mystery trying to figure it out.  instead it allows the characters to interact very generically and for any information to come out in a genuine way.  in fact, for most of the film, i didn't care what had made hannah how she was, but was rather just completely interested in seeing her as she was now and how she interacted with the various people on the boat and josef as she slowly came just a little out of her shell.

the odd thing is that normally i would want to know more about her.  to have things given to me over the course of the film so that there just isn't some big 'reveal' at the end that is supposed to make it all make sense. that is a little movie pet peeve of mine, when films do that, but here it works and i think i know why.  in this case the film doesn't feel like it is leading up to some kind of revelatory moment. the characters relations and the main story all stand up before we get to any kind of 'moment'. 

this is a strong script from coixet and a really good job of bringing her story to the screen. if you have a chance to see The Secret Life Of Words either on purpose or by accident you should definitely check it out.