Child star brings warmth, sheds light through grim realism

“Valentin” – Argentina, France, Italy – Netflix instant watch

The daily joys and woes of nine-year-old Valentin are genuinely recounted in this artistic film that is built on a narrative frame made up almost entirely of the boy’s disarmingly charming voiceovers.

Living in 1960s Buenos Aires, he resourcefully fights to maintain his youthful optimism while his grandmother who cares for him, resourcefully manages to maintain him. Yet, even as his family offers condescension and dismissal, he holds on to his hope to become an astronaut.

In between the passages of narration are inserted short scenes that with simple, everyday situations, allow us to better understand the logic and lies that rule his world.

Although the absence of his parents weighs heavy on his mind, he is most preoccupied with helping others. He cares for his stubborn grandmother, attentively listening to her repetitive stories. With the simultaneous insight of an old man, and the curiosity of the child he still is, he draws parallels between what he observes and what he experiences.

Albeit moments of tragic real world realism, the movie glows with the nostalgic warmth of movies like Amelie and childhood stories like Le Petit Nicolas.