In America, two boys at the beach with no parental supervision leads to dumb, artificial sex comedies; in Europe, the same material can turn into something genuine and sweet. In a small seaside town near Barcelona, Nico co... more »mes to visit his best friend Dani, whose parents are away for the summer. They have the typical male teenager obsessions with masturbation and girls--but Dani is just beginning to realize that he's more interested in Nico than the local girls they've been flirting with. The setup isn't unusual, but what is remarkable about Nico and Dani is the unforced naturalism of the acting and the way the story unfolds. All the young actors give simple but nuanced performances, capturing in detail the charming awkwardness of adolescence, with frank sex scenes that are more clumsy and hopeful than erotic. Winner of the Prix de Jeunesse award at Cannes. --Bret Fetzer« less
Zeferino M. from HAMMOND, IN Reviewed on 11/16/2010...
I enjoyed the film, but there was little in the way of character history. In addition, there was a section where they could have expanded a bit more on a subplot yet it was just something very cursory. Over all it was a good film.
A beautiful, subtle, positive story of friendship
Douglas Kendrick | Valencia, CA, USA | 07/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not even certain where I first heard of this film, but I'm sure glad I did. I've watched it several times and after each viewing I've come to appreciate the story, the actors and the message very deeply. I think it's the finest movie I've ever seen on the subject of friendship and "coming of age", bar none.Remember back to your youth when times were simpler and all you had to do was think about what you'd do with your friends that day? Nico and Dani recalls that time in such a believable, carefree, almost naive way that all I could do was smile and enjoy the feeling. They do the normal things guys do like go fishing, hunt rabbits, hang out and party with friends. The actors portraying the characters (Fernando Ramallo as Dani and Jordi Vilches as Nico) even look like two average guys at 16--kind of gangly and skinny, just like I remember being back then. In short, I believed it all from the get-go.The friendship we see is one that obviously has been built up over many, many past summers and each time I watch the film again, the more I realize just how deep that friendship is and how subtly and naturally it's portrayed. I mean, it would have to be pretty deep given that the two boys frequently have a "Krampack" (mutual masturbation session) to help each other out.The twist in the film comes when Dani begins to realize at this time of adolescent change that he's falling in love with his best friend Nico, just as Nico is finding out how much he's into girls and anxious to go through his own rites of passage. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn't it?The beauty of this Spanish summertime story, though, is that it doesn't turn into an "Afterschool Special", a platform for gay community propaganda, or a ridiculous "American Pie"-like farce. It just continues its dreamy, easygoing pace as we watch the two boys' friendship bend--but not break. There is a wonderful balance of humorous vs. "heavy" scenes (I could watch the scene where they're talking through the bathroom door a thousand times and never tire of it) that allows for changes of mood and pauses for reflection.By the end, nobody dies, gets put in therapy, beats someone up to prove how "macho" he is, catches a disease, has a huge, dramatic, cry-his-eyes-out scene or other predictable cliché. I was left with nothing but a peaceful, happy feeling that everything would be OK, Nico and Dani would always remain friends and that this film was worth every minute of my life's time I gave up watching it.For what it's worth, I also dredged up my high school Spanish from the recesses of my memory and--along with my pause control and a Spanish dictionary--went the extra mile to learn what was actually being said and how (English subtitles can only get you so far...). That made a HUGE difference to my understanding (and my own education). I would wholeheartedly recommend you add this to your collection, watch the wonderful interviews with cast and director and give it a few repeat viewings just to glean all the magnificent subtlety from the story.While not the "Perfect Film" (I'm personally a bit bothered by the boys' habit of answering nearly every important question with "let's smoke a joint", and the soundtrack does strike one as a bit goofy a couple of times), it's nearly there in my book. I think that it will strike a chord in many who have lived through similar circumstances. I would also highly suggest it for STRAIGHT boys who might be in the position of finding out that their best friend is turning out to be gay.Fantastic acting by the main characters, gorgeous Costa Brava scenery and a compelling story of enduring friendship mean this'll be a film I'll continue to watch over and over again.Other "Friendship/Growing Up/Coming Out" films I highly suggest: Beautiful Thing, Get Real, Edge of Seventeen (in that order...)."
A very good but too brief movie
bruce452 | a big American city | 01/24/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is another film that has been touted as the next "Beautiful Thing," but it was not the director's intention to make a love story like that. Rather, this is a series of snapshots of a few days in the lives of two Spanish boys who are heading down different forks in the road. Though clocked at 90 minutes the movie speeds by in seemingly half that time.Nico is coming to visit Dani at the coast while Dani's parents are away; he is intending to do the same thing he would do if he stayed home in Barcelona, went to Rome, or, for that matter, orbited in the Space Shuttle: chase skirts. Dani has begun to hear the tapping of a different drummer and has apparently had a lot of time to plan all the ways he wants to share his new interests with his long time pal. Clearly these two have been very close. Krammpack (mutual masturbation), the original title of the play, is not just something they've read about in magazines.The movie is a series of fast moving vignettes of the two boys and the two girls they meet and interact with. They move from incident to incident quickly, not lingering long nor introspecting much about what has happened. Though the age of the two is not clear (I've read as young as 15, as old as 17) it is made clear they are both virgins and minors (in much of Europe, 16 is the age of consent).There are some unsettling undertones as Dani experiments with sexuality, mas or menos, oblivious for some time to the fact Nico is increasingly uncomfortable with the moves he is putting on him. There is a very unsettling, for me, date rape scene, involving the hoary old concoction Spanish Fly, not the modern date rape drug DHA. The movie remains non-judgemental. Director Cesc Gay keeps things from getting too heavy both by not lingering on any one incident and with musical punctuation and title cards reminscent of silent films that foreshadow upcoming scenes. The music in the film is excellent.Nico is played by Jordi Villachi and he is a real charmer. Though not blessed with extraordinary good looks, it is nevertheless easy to see why Dani and Elena and Berta are drawn to him. Dani is a very handsome young man, played by Fernando Ramalla with an intensity that is at times eerie. He is struggling with more difficult issues than Nico, of course, and has anticipated that he is facing almost certain frustration of his desires.When the two go their separate ways one evening Dani, in a lover's snit, tries tarting an older man, which is a cake walk for him, but the better angels of his nature prevail.The movie ends positively; the two's friendship survives the stresses. Nobody is thrown into therapy nor denounced from the pulpit for their misdeeds. Nico hasn't given up on chasing skirts and Dani has learned a lot about what he wants, as well as what he doesn't want. The worst that Nico can bring himself to say of his friend is that he is selfish.I gave the movie four stars but if the system would have let me, I would have given it another 1/4 or 1/2 star, and if it continues to wear well with repeated viewing, as I think it will, I'll be upgrading my rating in a few months. Nico and Dani is not "Romeo and Julian," nor is it even "Jaime and Ste," but it's a lot closer to them that it is to American Pie, and it's a very good movie."
Terrific movie, never in America!
J Keistler | Lake Jackson, Texas USA | 01/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I loved this movie. It is refreshingly NOT like American coming-of-age movies, which I avoid like the plague. The underlying tension between Nico and Dani over a summer's visit is a constant theme, one that can certainly be familiar to gay people. So much of the time, teenage gay movies either tend to be maudlin, mushy or just plain depressing. This movie is none of those. Another refreshing aspect of the film is that it doesn't try to tie all the loose ends up at the end of the film. I bought the movie and viewed it without reading all the reviews because wanted to view it fresh without preconceptions, and I won't detail it any more than this. It is light as a feather in many ways, which was what I was looking for. I bought the DVD and recommend that any other buyer look at the interviews with Cesc Gay and the main cast members after seeing the movie. Another point: the movie I received was "unrated" but I have no idea why this would even be R-rated. There was no gratuitous nudity, only a topless girl in one scene. I think the censors must've gone overboard on this one. Highly recommended."
I mean what i say
J Keistler | 07/20/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"a really sweet coming of age story from a different culture's perspective. set in sunny barcelona, its cast of characters are two boys and two girls hanging out at the beach (and bars where the fourteen year old gets served!), with the intent of one day getting it on. i found them all to be extremely beautiful people in their honesty and openess, and the depth of emotion that the director conveyed was astonishing. he took his time developing the characters in a curious way, i feel like i have four new friends. okay, i went and saw the thing twice, i loved it. i usually like movies that challenge my mind, but this one was totally different than anything i've seen. the feelings this film conjure up are what make it. the soundtrack is extremely well placed, with some songs in english. there are subtitles, but if you know a little spanish, the movie can be quite endearing."