Picks and Pans Review: Valentina

updated 09/19/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/19/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

It is heartening to know that quality films can still be made with honesty and simplicity in this age of Hollywood high tech. But why do they all have to be imports? This Spanish film is a case in point. Beautifully shot on location in Aragon, Valentina is a retrospective tale, circa 1911, of a mischievous boy (13-year-old Jorge Sanz) whose need for independence is almost as great as his love for the title character, played by 12-year-old Paloma Gomez. Director Antonio Betancor brings out humor and sensitivity in the delightful pair while disguising neither the pain of being a child in an adult world nor the surges of stubbornness that accompany childhood. The trio creates a touching story—reminiscent of such American classics as Peck's Bad Boy and Hand in Hand—that provides thoughtful escapism for the sentimentalist and adventurer alike. Anthony Quinn is another real joy with a magical performance as the priest and mentor who understands and befriends Sanz. Quinn proves he can be just as potent in his native tongue as he is in English. Betancor, making his U.S. debut, has expressed apprehension at the prospect of this kind of work being deemed "a good 'Spanish' film." Fear not, Senor; Valentina is a good film, period. (In Spanish, with English subtitles; not rated)

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