The Secret Life of Words

The Secret Life of Words

Director: Isabel Coixet Cast: Sarah Polley, Tim Robbins, Julie Christie

DVD (Wide Screen)

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Writer-director Isabel Coixet's (My Life Without Me) beautifully wrought chamber drama The Secret Life of Words opens on Hanna (Sarah Polley), a laconic, backward and introverted girl in her early '30s, quietly drowning in her own isolation. Partially deaf from working an untold number of hours in a loud factory, Hanna must wear a hearing aid. When her supervisors -- deeply concerned about the four years that have lapsed in Hanna's life without a break -- force her to go on holiday for a month, she hesitantly takes off for a coastal village in the north of Ireland. Once there, she decides to dine in a local restaurant, and overhears, by chance, a telephone conversation conducted by Victor (Eddie Marsan), regarding an accident on a nearby oil rig that he precipitated, which left a victim, Josef (Tim Robbins) in its wake. Hanna tells Victor that she is a nurse, and is instantly flown to the rig to treat the bedbound Josef -- temporarily blind from extensive cornea damage, and his body blanketed with severe burns. She also encounters the structure's motley and eccentric band of workers -- from ecologist Martin (Daniel Mays), who spends his time studying mutated mussels that collect on the ship's base and the waves that strike the side of the rig, to Josef, to chef Simon (Javier Camára), who prepares "gourmet" food no one else can stand, to Dimitri (Sverre Anker Ousdal), an elderly gentleman who is as much of a loner as Hanna. As Hanna begins to foresee a new place for herself among these individuals, a relationship gradually develops between Hanna and Josef, who holds his new friend rapt with lyrical, evocative, magisterial tales from his past -- unknowingly drawing Hanna, one step at a time, toward inner joy, self-expression, and revelation of her own sad and complex story.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/08/2007
UPC: 0025195002813
Original Release: 2005
Rating: NR
Source: Universal Studios
Region Code: 1
Presentation: [Wide Screen]
Sound: [Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time: 1:56:00
Sales rank: 75,777

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Sarah Polley Hanna
Tim Robbins Josef
Julie Christie Inge
Javier Camára Simon
Sverre Anker Ousdal Dimitri
Steven Mackintosh Actor
Leonor Watling Actor
Danny Cunningham Actor
Eddie Marsan Victor
Dean Lennox Kelly Actor
Emmanuel Idowu Actor
Daniel Mays Martin

Technical Credits
Isabel Coixet Director,Screenwriter
Agustín Almodóvar Executive Producer
Aitor Berenguer Sound/Sound Designer
Irene Blecua Editor
Esther Garcia Producer
Jean-Claude Larrieu Cinematographer
Pierre-Francois Limbosch Art Director
Jaume Roures Executive Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Secret Life of Words
1. Silence and Words (Main Title) [7:05]
2. Forced Holiday [6:01]
3. Killing Time [4:47]
4. Unstable [4:56]
5. Still Alive [7:49]
6. Chicken and White Rice [6:17]
7. Left Alone [3:23]
8. Cleaning Wounds [5:15]
9. New Experience [7:20]
10. Without Ties [4:42]
11. Life is Strange [8:19]
12. Everything's an Accident [3:41]
13. Living With the Dead [5:28]
14. There's Still Hope [4:05]
15. The Awful Truth [13:01]
16. Separate Ways [1:23]
17. Road to Recovery [4:35]
18. Ashamed to Survive [6:37]
19. Learning to Swim [6:00]
20. End Titles [4:12]

Customer Reviews

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The Secret Life of Words 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is always a joy to find a DVD in the videostore that is completely an unknown entity, only to discover upon viewing it that it is a little masterpiece of cinematic art. Such is the case with THE SECRET LIFE OF WORDS, and having seen the film now raises the question of how it went unnoticed in the theater release. Though touted on the cover as an 'Almodóvar film', in reality it's connection to the genius lies in the fact that both Pedro and his brother Agustín Almodóvar were executive producers: the film was written and directed by Spanish artist Isabel Coixet (Paris, je t'aime, Invisibles, My Life Without Me). It is a minimalist statement about the indomitable human spirit, a story that slowly unwinds to reveal some of the most terrifying aspects of trauma of war and guilt and shame ever written. Hanna (Sarah Polley, in a phenomenal performance) is a deaf, silent reclusive young woman working as a line operator in a factory, so married to her meaningless job that her boss insists she take a vacation she deserves. Hanna does as she's told, and journeys to a seaside spot where she hears about a man on an oil rig in the middle of the ocean who is severely burned and needs a nurse. Hanna quietly takes the job, is flown by the doctor (Steven Mackintosh) to the isolated oil rig, populated with only a few men - cook Simon (Javier Cámara of 'Hable con ella', 'La Mala educación, 'Lucía y el sexo' etc), oceanographer and workers (Eddie Marsan, Daniel Mays, Dean Lennox Kelly, Danny Cunningham, Emmanuel Idowu) and a captain (Steven Mackintosh), and meets her patient Josef (Tim Robbins) who is temporarily blinded from burns to his corneas, and severely burned on his limbs. Josef seeks to discover information from Hanna, but Hanna shares nothing about herself, spending her time dressing Josef's wounds, feeding him and tending to his needs. He slowly reveals his painful past to her (he was burned in an accident in which his best friend was burned to death, the friend whose wife had become Josef's lover!). Hanna is treated well by the few men on the isolated rig and learns to eat the exotic foods prepared by Simon, becoming friends with the crew, though at a distance, and gradually Hanna speaks with Josef about herself. In a painful confessional Hanna reveals that she is Bosnian and a survivor of the Balkan war, a hideous time when she and her close friend were captured, tortured and raped, leaving Hanna with physical as well as psychic scars and an enormous feeling of shame that her friend died and she survived. This knowledge bonds Hanna and Josef, but by this point it is time for Josef to be medevaced to a hospital onshore and the two part company. After some time has passed and Josef has recovered, he begins his search for Hanna and the journey and its finale serve as a touching end to the story. The cast is uniformly brilliant, including a small role of Hanna's therapist played convincingly by Julie Christie. The metaphors the tale offers are many, but the most moving is an examination of how the human mind deals with survival and shame after trauma. Director Isabel Coixet draws such subtle performances from the entire cast in this very small film, proving she is one of the more important artists in film making today. Very Highly Recommended. Grady Harp
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie was outstanding! It is the most moving picture that I have seen in years. The screenplay is impeccably written and the character development is incredibly strong. Tim Robbins, as always, is completely brilliant, and it is easy to see how Hanna falls for him. I was also very surprised by Sarah Polley's exceptional performance. Both she and Robbins deserve awards for their parts in this film.