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Valentin review

"Why does everyone always fight? And why am I always in the middle?" Life isn't easy for Valentín (Rodrigo Noya), an eight-year-old boy in '60s Argentina whose dreams of a happy home life are as fanciful as his yearning to become an astronaut. Stuck with his grumpy gran (Carmen Maura) while his neglectful father chases all the skirt Buenos Aires has to offer, our specs-wearing hero longs for a mum to replace the one who walked out. If only it were that simple...

Director Alejandro Agresti's semi-autobiographical yarn is both insubstantial and derivative, recalling a dozen other rites-of-passage tales, while the decision to shoehorn Che Guevara's death into the narrative is a curious one given the general lack of political subtext. Thankfully, however, it features a winning performance from the hugely likeable Noya, ideally cast as the eternally optimistic protagonist, and lush cinematography that casts a nostalgic glow over the bittersweet action. Flawed, then, but impossible to dislike.

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