Directed by Alejandro Agresti

Eight-year old Valentin (Rodrigo Noya) aspires to be an astronaut based at NASA but as his cranky, recently widowed grandmother (Carmen Maura) keeps reminding him, that’s not a realistic aspiration in late 60s Argentina (the film is set not insignificantly in the year of Che Guevara’s death). Valentin however is not easily daunted and he soldiers on determined to prove both his grandmother and his womanising father (a revelatory performance by Agresti in what is evidently a partly autobiographical work) wrong. Sumptuously shot in rich hues by Jose Luis Cajaraville and featuring a lush score by Paul M. van Bruggen, Agresti crafts a witty, affecting feature which deftly chronicles the rituals and routines of Valentin’s day to day existence in revealing the poignant loneliness of a boy enveloped by family secrets and half-truths. Adied by an impeccable cast including the mesmeric Carmen Maura, cast against type as the ailing grandmother, Julieta Cardinali as the latest in a long list of girlfriends introduced to Valentin by his father as a potential mother-to-be; and, crucially, newcomer Rodrigo Noya as the enterprising (and gloriously cute) youngster determined not to let family doubts and prejudices get in his way. Agresti delivers a fresh and amusing variation on the premise that growing up is never easy. (Maria Delgado)

86 minutes

Country of origin:
Argentina, France, Italy, Netherlands and Spain

Year of production: