El Bola

Translated Title: Pellet

Director: Achero Mañas

Director Francois Truffaut and long-time star/cinematic alter ego Jean Pierre-Leaud would be proud of Achero Mañas’s El Bola, a wonderful tale of a difficult childhood in Spain. Featuring amazing portrayals by its young cast, El Bola earned four Goya awards (including Best Film and Best Emerging Director) for its heartbreaking story of twelve-year-old Pablo (nicknamed Pellet) who endures intense abuse from his father and lashes out at his cruel surroundings with a dangerous daredevil game on the railroad tracks with his friends. After befriending a new classmate named Alfredo, Pablo learns how the other half lives as he spends more time with Alfredo’s kind parents. In a truly moving portrayal by Alberto Jimenez as Alfredo’s father Jose, Mañas plays against audience prejudices and expectations by presenting his work as a tattoo artist and making us form an erroneous judgment before realizing that behind his tough exterior, Jose is the most moral character in the film and the one who ultimately tries to help get Pablo away from his dangerous home environment. While it’s definitely a far tougher film than the iconic 400 Blows, El Bola calls to mind this rough emerging coming-of-age genre (featuring American works Thirteen and Twelve and Holding) that illustrate the new challenges children are facing in a society that forces them to age much faster than we may prefer. All in all, El Bola is an emotional and unforgettable piece of Spanish cinema from filmmovement.com.