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Gio Black Peter,
Pedro, a gay man with an active social life and big circle of friends, takes in his nephew Bernardo for a couple weeks. When it appears as though it might become a permanent arrangement, however, Pedro turns to his friends for guidance as he and 9-year-old Bernardo begin to forge a household together. Written by
Getting it Right: A Healthy Look at Gay Life from Spain
BEAR CUB (CACHORRO) is a delight! This joyous film has the wisdom (and courage, if US standards are applied!) to open the doors and windows depicting a segment of the gay population who are healthy in attitude, in lasting relationships and friendships, and who don't swerve from addressing issues such as AIDS, single parenting, recreational dalliances, the dangers of drugs, and the importance of family. It is honest in dialogue, in casting, and in demonstrating that all people are subjected to the same ups and downs, no matter their sexual proclivity.
Pedro (José Luis García Pérez) is a successful dentist, a warmly human man who is surrounded by caring friends - primarily men who call themselves 'bears', a subunit of the gay population identified by hairy faces and bodies, stout husky physiques instead of the usual gay image of the perfectly carved gym body, and a live-and-let-live philosophy of upfront honesty, warmth and caring for their extended families. Pedro is openly gay, a fact that his widowed sister Violeta (Elvira Lindo) and her 9-year old son Bernardo (David Castillo) happily accept. When Violeta and her current paramour Borja (Cali Caballero) decide to vacation in India, Bernardo is left with Pedro for the promised two week stay.
During their time together Pedro and Bernardo bond, Bernardo is introduced to Pedro's friends and is entirely comfortable by the healthy relationships he sees. Pedro is not partnered (his lover Eduardo died...) but he dates openly with Bernardo's knowledge. When Pedro is in his Dental Office, baby sitter Lola (Diana Cerezo) introduces Bernardo to go-go and other parts of the world outside and becomes a happy trio with the two males. News comes that Violeta and Borja have been arrested in India for drug trafficking, changing the two-week vacation into a time indefinite absence. Pedro and Bernardo adjust.
Things take a turn when Bernardo's estranged grandmother Doña Teresa (Empar Ferrer) enters the scene, haughty, disapproving of Bernardo's living situation, and taking advantage of the absence of her hated daughter-in-law to attempt to gain custody of Bernardo, 'the only thing I have left in life.' Due to some unfortunate twists of behavior and fate, Doña Teresa gains evidence to blackmail Pedro, not only because of his sexual outings photographed by her investigator, but because she discovers Pedro is HIV positive. In her attempts to denounce Pedro we discover the Bernardo already knows of his uncle's HIV status (as well as Violeta's) and Bernardo pleads with Pedro not to let Doña Teresa take him away. A compromise is reached and Bernardo is sent off to a coed school in Valencia.
How all of these twists and turns resolve constitutes the surprising ending of this excellent film: each of the characters is shown to be wholly three-dimensional, even Doña Teresa, and the overriding importance of family and compassion and love rules the day. The ending is open ended, allowing the viewer to select the way to conclude the story.
Director and co-writer (with Salvador García Ruiz) Miguel Albaladejo is a master at finding the core of truth in each of his characters, their individual life styles, and the unfettered joy of living uncompromised lives. The cast is extraordinary: José Luis García Pérez is a natural actor, David Castillo is completely believable as Bernardo, and the remainder of the cast is outstanding. The original music by Nacho Canut and Olvido Gara is so in keeping with the tone of the film. Yes, there are some consensual sex scenes in this film, but they are treated with respect and decorum and without them the flavor of the film would be lacking. This is a refreshing film about the sanctity of love - and it just happens to be populated with one of the most lovable gay groups ever created! Highly recommended.
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