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Secreto Bien Guardado (Argentina)

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Why it’s worth your time:

A love story set in 1940s, Secreto Bien Guardado deals with the romance between a young Jewish girl named Amalia (Oriana Sabatini, niece of tennis player Gabriela) and a somewhat older German diplomat named Martin. The story begins during the early stages of World War II in neutral Argentina, while German sailors from the battleship Admiral Graf Spee await for the Argentine government to grant them permission to return to Germany — after the British forced the vessel’s captain to sink it off the Uruguayan coast.

Enter Amalia and her family on a vacation in a hotel in central Argentina, where a retinue of Third Reich diplomats are also staying, working on the strategy for the release of the sailors. It is here where the two characters meet, and where their soon-to-be troubled love is born.

Based on a novel by the same name by Argentine writer Viviana Rivero, the telenovela is packed with romantic suffering, possessiveness, drama and the quintessentially obnoxious mother-in-law. It deals with longing and love, of course, but also with ontology. Is Martin a Nazi and that’s all there is to it? Most people would end their judgment at that, but that’s not what Amalia feels and decides. One has to wonder if she does so out of youthful innocence, lack of sufficient information on what’s happening across the pond, or simply because that is love. Applying the same logic in reverse, to the more sinister side, when do feelings contravene outside expectations and projections? When does love trump hate?

The takeaway:

“Don’t give up, that’s 50% of victory.” While this phrase is placed in the mouth of military and diplomatic figures in the story, it certainly applies to Amalia’s and Martin’s feelings: fight for what you want, against all odds. And those odds certainly include paternal, religious, and cultural expectations. Between your gut and your brain, sometimes you gotta listen to the former.  Though again, one has to wonder if Amalia would have made the same decisions had she fully known about Nazi concentration camps.

Watch it with:

Telenovela fans, romantic girlfriends, stubborn and incurably romantic people in general, patient and empathic boyfriends, and perhaps even World War II history buffs. Cool mothers-in-law are also welcome.

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