Eye For Film >> Movies >> Eleanor's Secret (2009) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
A thoughtful but adventure-packed film for younger children, Eleanor's Secret is the story of a little boy who can't read. Mercilessly teased by his sister and feeling the pressure from his well-meaning parents, Nat is hoping to get away from school-related stress, at least, on a trip to his deceased Aunt Eleanor's house at the seaside. Imagine his dismay, then, upon discovering that she has left him a room full of books! It feels like an insult, until he discovers that this is a library with a magical secret.
Visually sumptuous throughout, this film is a delight for the eyes. Clever imagery puts across Nat's feelings about the oppressive nature of letters and words very effectively - so much so, in fact, that more sensitive children may find parts of it frightening, though, of course, there is a happy ending. The engaging story, which never patronises Nat and shows that his dislike of reading doesn't limit his imaginative powers, may well work effectively in encouraging reluctant readers. It certainly brings alive the magic of what books contain. Learning to read is empowering and there's a strong sense of that as the tale develops, countering the early impression that it's a difficult chore which may be necessary to please other people.
This thoughtful (though sometimes awkwardly paced) storytelling, along with the handsome imagery, makes the film quite watchable for adults as well as children. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the voice acting in the English dub, which is quite simply abysmal.
It seems that for all the film's rich approach to its subject matter, somebody didn't understand that (in this context at least) there is more to reading than simply looking at words and repeating what they say. Parents of bilingual children would be well advised to seek out a different version.
Despite this failing, Eleanor's Secret is a charming and uplifting film that delivers its message well without being preachy.Reviewed on: 24 Jan 2011