I Want To Tell You Something

I Want To Tell You Something


Reviewed by: Chris

Why would a three-year-old with perfectly good hearing learn sign language? Because his twin brother is deaf, that's why.

It's the reason why his parents also learn. I Want To Tell You Something is a documentary following their consequent, unusual, 'bilingual' family life together.

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The aim is probably to show the unique contribution that it's possible to make by communicating without sound. We see the family in day-to-day situations, ups and downs. The twins' mother talks about the grieving she and her partner went through on learning that one of their sons was deaf. Hopes are raised and then dashed: the possibility of an implant is explored and then found to be unworkable.

The basic idea of I Want To Tell You Something holds much potential. Contrasts between a visual and an auditory language, especially when the two are used simultaneously or when sentences are constructed in a mix of the two, could be a filmmaker's delight. But Nguyen's handling of the subject matter is pedestrian, however competent. Once we have seen the twins mixing German and sign language in the same sentence, it only remains to repeat the point. There is little cinematic imagination in the delivery, the two sons (especially the deaf one) seem to have had a charisma bypass, and I find myself concentrating more on the plodding, though exceedingly competent, parenting skills of the mother.

Camerawork is similarly unimaginative, like that produced by a skilled person making a family video. Odd gems fall into the filmmaker's lap - such as when the video function on phones becomes strikingly useful between a father and son call - but are underdeveloped. Explaining how fish get caught in the sea before going into the supermarket deep-freeze is boring in any language unless you are a three year old.

I Want To Tell You Something may find a place as an educational video. In its own field, it is an outstanding work. It could be excellent for any parent facing the possibility of raising a deaf child. Or educationalists wanting to 'normalise' the teaching of deaf children and helping their parents to relate fully. But as a stand-alone documentary feature it is perhaps more suited to late night cable channels.

(The title is a misnomer. It is taken not from anything Oskar, the deaf child, signs. It is a random comment by his brother. Oskar signs clearly and emphatically - and sadly - that he has no desire to talk.)

Reviewed on: 14 Aug 2007
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An insight into the lives of twin boys who communicate in sign language.

Director: Martin Nguyen

Starring: Leo Badegruber, Oscar Badegruber

Year: 2006

Runtime: 65 minutes

Country: Austria


EIFF 2007

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