Out of the Dark

FLIFF spotlights a reclusive Mexican writer, a bluegrass pretender, Israeli terror victims, and a Portuguese family in flight

Un Secreto de Esperanza (A Beautiful Secret)

A shaky beginning and ending only slightly mar this Mexican drama, which chronicles the unusual friendship that develops between an adolescent boy and a mysterious elderly woman inhabiting a crumbling estate widely believed to be haunted. The story is told in flashback, with our first glimpse of the protagonist, Jorge, as a grown man standing in the rain and holding a bunch of flowers. Then we see him as a 12-year-old in 1984, dancing around to the Pointer Sisters' "I'm So Excited." There are some strange Omen-esque moments involving the so-called haunted house and some plot contrivances before Jorge meets Esperanza. She turns out to be a reclusive eccentric, a writer who once kept company with Dalí, Luis Buñuel, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and their ilk before walking away from fame and fortune; she was also the first Latin American woman to win a Nobel Prize for literature. The boy is beautifully portrayed by Jaime Aymerich, but much of the movie's resonance comes from another bit of inspired casting: Katy Jurado as the enigmatic Esperanza. Jurado, who died in July at the age of 79, had been a film star in her native Mexico and a movie journalist for years when she was "discovered" in 1951 by Western director Budd Boetticher, who cast her in The Bullfighter and the Lady. She went on to have a spotty Hollywood career, including High Noon (1952) and Broken Lance (1954), for which she received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination -- the only Mexican performer to achieve that distinction. She was also briefly married to Ernest Borgnine. She's exceptional in this, her swan song to the movies, which features long luxurious stretches with Esperanza simply reminiscing; the audience is likely to be as entranced as the wide-eyed young Jorge. (Sunday, November 16, 3 p.m., Parker Playhouse; 128 minutes; in Spanish with English subtitles)

A mother and son flee arbitrary justice in Portugal (left); a Jerusalem resident dives for cover.
A mother and son flee arbitrary justice in Portugal (left); a Jerusalem resident dives for cover.


Continues through Sunday, November 16, at the Parker Playhouse, 707 NE Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale, and at Cinema Paradiso, 503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-760-9898.

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