The Secret Life of Words

Watch The Secret Life of Words

  • NR
  • 2005
  • 1 hr 55 min
  • 7.4  (13,027)
  • 68

The Secret Life of Words is a 2005 Spanish-Irish drama film directed by Isabel Coixet. It stars Sarah Polley, Tim Robbins, and Sverre Anker Ousdal in lead roles. The movie tells the story of a reclusive mute woman who works as a factory worker. She is taken on as a nurse during the oil rig disaster, where a man is badly burnt and blind. In the process, they both embark on a journey that changes their lives forever.

The movie opens with a series of shots of giant oil rigs churning up the ocean, a symbol of the heartless machinery of the world. Polley's character, Hanna, has been working on one of these rigs for years, packing containers with the oil that soaks her clothes and every pore of her body. She is a woman of few words, maintaining her silence with an intense and impregnable force, contentedly living her solitude.

When she takes an occupational health exam, she collapses and is instructed to take time off work. When she returns, her company sends her to care for a man, Josef (Tim Robbins), who has been horribly injured and left blind from a work accident. Josef's wounds are not only physical but emotional, as his wife and daughter are long gone, and he seems to have lost his will to live.

As Hanna cares for Josef, she realizes that they have more in common than she initially thought. She finds herself opening up to him, and he to her, and they embark on a journey to heal each other's wounds. The film is an intimate character study, a movie that's just about two people who need each other to cope with their past and to move on.

The movie's two leads are brilliant, and their chemistry is undeniable. Polley infuses Hanna with a quiet, gentle strength that slowly unfolds over the course of the movie. Although she is mute, her silent communication speaks volumes, conveying volumes of emotions and depths of character. Robbins' performance as Josef is equally impressive, conveying both the physical and emotional pain he is experiencing.

The movie is about the power of human connection, about the bonds that can form between people when they are at their most vulnerable. The scenes in which Hanna and Josef come to know each other are incredibly moving and intimate, highlighting the profound effect that simply speaking, listening, and being heard can have on people.

The Secret Life of Words is a film that will stay with you long after the credits have rolled. Coixet's restrained direction and delicate handling of her exceptional actors make this drama a truly powerful experience. This movie is a remarkable and emotional work that reminds us that human beings are capable of great good and great evil, and that sometimes we need someone else to remind us of the former.

The Secret Life of Words
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 55 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.4  (13,027)
  • Metascore