An elderly lady scratching out a solitary life in a small apartment begins to receive telephone calls every afternoon at a certain time. But when she picks up the telephone, no voice greets her. At first, it appears to be an annoying prank – but then it evolves into something highly unexpected.
Flavio Alves’ short film “The Secret Friend” is a moving, funny yet disturbing view of emotional isolation. Alves’ screenplay, adapted from a story by João Silvério Trevisan, offers a fascinating mix of conflicting feelings as the lonely object of the strange telephone calls responds to the situation in unlikely ways. The lack of a solid explanation regarding the reason for the calls, coupled with an unexpected denouement that could easily open the story even further, adds a deeper element of mystery to the surroundings while affirming the filmmaker’s willingness to take risks with his work.
Special praise needs to be made for 84-year-old character actress Viola Harris, who gives an extraordinary performance that fuels this imaginative work. Harris has mostly been seen in supporting parts in films, and “The Secret Friend” film signals that she truly deserves to be in the center of the spotlight. (Message to indie filmmakers: get Viola Harris!)