EmptyPalm Springs International Film Festival
Red Lion Films
PALM SPRINGS -- That art house staple known as the period coming-of-age film demonstrates its enduring resilience in the form of "Small Secrets."
Luxembourg's official foreign-language Oscar submission, the nicely acted, spirited portrait of a 12-year-old boy with a vivid imagination effectively captures the country at a very specific place in time.
It's 1962, and Norbi (Ben Hoscheit) isn't exactly having a wondrous childhood. He's still wetting his bed and he constantly finds himself on the receiving end of the wrath of school bullies and thrashings from his strict disciplinarian father (Andre Jung).
Then one day, while snooping around the family typewriter store, Norbi notices cryptic notations in his Dad's ledger book, which sets his mind racing.
Given that his town is very much still harboring wartime suspicions, he gradually becomes convinced that his father was a Nazi collaborator.
While there's ultimately nothing of tremendous consequence involved, director Pol Cruchten, along with screenwriters Viviane Thill and Francois Dupeyron and his resourceful cinematographer Jerzy Palacz, do an evocative job of re-creating a transitional time in European history when the era's forward-thinking, mod sensibility was struggling to come out from under those lingering murky shadows of the past.