Screened as part of NZIFF 2007

The Secret Life of Words 2005

Directed by Isabel Coixet

Sarah Polley stars as an emotionally scarred young woman who embarks on a tentative romance with an oil-rig worker in this delicate piece of artistry from Isabel Coixet (My Life Without Me).

Spain In English
115 minutes 35mm

Director, Screenplay

Executive producers

Augustín Almodóvar
Jaume Roures


Jean Claude Larrieu


Irene Blecua


Sarah Polley
Tim Robbins
Javier Cámara
Sverre Anker Ousdal
Eddie Marsan
Julie Christie


Venice 2005


In this delicate piece of artistry from writer-director Isabel Coixet (My Life Without Me), an enigmatic European factory worker called Hanna drifts through her day with her hearing aid switched off to avoid connecting with the world. Forced to take a break by her supervisor after ten years of working without a vacation, Hanna finds another job as a nurse on an oil rig. Her sole patient is a flirtatious, life-loving burns victim, played by Tim Robbins in charismatic form. As Hanna gradually adjusts to her new surroundings, finding kindred spirits among the oil rig’s eccentric and isolated crew, her shell begins to crack. Played with exquisite sensitivity and depth by actress Sarah Polley, Hanna’s silence alerts us to a hidden continent of emotional devastation. Something terrible has happened to Hanna and when her shocking revelation comes it will stay with you long after you’ve left the cinema.

“The exquisitely coordinated performances elicit an empathy as powerful as anything I can remember feeling in a recent film.” — Stephen Holden, NY Times