The Secret Life of Words – Day Thirty Eight – #40movies40days

the_secret_life_of_wordsThis is a short post because it’s a beautiful day today in Santa Monica.  I am nearly the end of this Lenten journey/commitment and conclusions are beginning to come clear to me.  I am about to leave on an extended trip to New York, Milan and Vienna– a great time to think and further synthesize.

The Secret Life of Words is written and directed by Isabel Coixet whose previous movie My Life Without Me also starred Sarah Polley. The director has stated in an interview:
The Secret Life of Words is written and directed by Isabel Coixet whose previous movie My Life Without Me also starred Sarah Polley.  According to Wikipedia:  Polley first attained notice in her role as Sara Stanley in the Canadian television series, Road to Avonlea. She has also starred in such films as The Sweet Hereafter, Guinevere, Go, The Weight of Water, My Life Without Me, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Dawn of the Dead, Splice, and Mr. Nobody.
She gives a mesmerizing performance in this film as a young woman whose silence is her protection from terrors she’s seen.  The Secret Life of Words is a slow, lyrical movie that gradually builds to a powerful finale.  I’d never heard of it but like Tim Robbins and gave it a try.
Hanna (Sarah Polley)  volunteers to take care of a badly burned man (Tim Robbins) on an oil rig.  She was a nurse in her native land.  The two develop a powerful healing bond.  Here’s what the writer/director,  Isabel Coixet, has to say:
“Hanna lives in silence that her deafness imposes on her, although very often it seems that silence is the only weapon she has to defend herself from the world. Josef talks (and talks) as if it is only through words and a self-deprecating sense of humor that he can avoid going completely mad. The encounter between them, the inevitable physical link that is established between a nurse and the patient she is caring for, will show them the other face of the reality in which both of them are immersed. The empathy, that mysterious ability to feel the other person’s dilemmas as your own, that they manage to develop will break down all the walls of silence and cynicism.”
The wordless emotional climax of the film goes beyond words in connecting these two characters. Perhaps that’s why film is such a powerful medium.  It’s possible to speak volumes through images.
Again, this is a film about forgiving oneself and letting go of the past.  Although these films are randomly selected on a whim, actor’s name, locale, convenience or other interesting feature– many of them are speaking to me of the same themes.  Amazing.


  1. Reply Claire 3rd February 2012


    Where did you find that quote from the director?


    • Reply Laurie Hutzler 13th February 2012

      Thanks for asking– the writer/director is Isabel Coixet

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