El Bola (2000) Poster

(2000)

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8/10
Hidden treasure!
allie2037 October 2006
Very simple movie, but so powerful, the type of movie you won't find in the theater near you,a little hidden treasure. Excellent cast and performances. A lesson in life growing up, of friendship, despair and hope. You do not want the movie to end, to me its a sign of something special. I see the game they are playing on the train tracks as a dare, but also a death wish, even as children they are playing a game that are similar to their way of life, comes the newcomer who has a normal upbringing and find the game stupid and refused to play it,shows the difference between the children depicted in the story, one raised by loving parents, the others living their life with no structure, no love, having to fight their own battles.
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7/10
Sensitive and touching motion picture though with some depressing moments
ma-cortes22 February 2013
El Bola, a 12 year old boy named Pablo (Juan Jose Ballesta) suffers problems at home . Embarrassed by his family life, he avoids becoming close to classmates. The arrival of a new boy (Pablo Galan) at school changes his attitude towards his classmates, and friendship. Pablo befriends Alfredo , and both of whom share amusing as well as unhappy experiences . The heart of the story is the change in El Bola's life, at almost all levels, after befriending this new classmate . El Bola or Pablo suffers bruises and scars but he is too afraid to confess that has been beating . Pablo does not come to school for a week and Alfredo and his his father (Alberto Jimenez) become deeply concerned for him .

Dramatic film dealing with domestic violence , friendship , parents-sons relationship and many other things . This is a perceptible and enjoyable portrait of a pair of big city kids, reminiscent of François Truffaut's 400 blows (1959). The picture achieved big success - both public and critical - and getting several prizes as national : Goya Award as international : Prix la Présidence Belge De l'Union Européenne 2001 and Nominé Pour Grand Prix Festival de Montpellier . Agreeable performances by entire cast as Juan Jose Ballesta as a deeply abusive boy at 12-year-old raised in a violent and sordid environment , Alberto Jimenez as a fun-loving Bohemian daddy and Manuel Moron as a tyrannical father . Colorful and appropriate cinematography by Juan Carlos Gomez . Emotive and adequate musical score by Eduardo Arbide , Achero Mañas' usual musician .

The motion picture was compellingly directed by Achero Mañas , a prestigious actor and filmmaker . Achero first followed in the steps of his mother, actress Paloma Lorena who played in two of his films, and his father , a notorious producer named Alfredo Mañas , but he soon turned from thespian to filmmaker. He made three shorts before meeting a big hit as ¨El Bola¨ that is dedicated to Laura Mañas . His second feature ¨Noviembre¨ (2003) also garnered least five awards but he was less successful with ¨Blackwhite¨ (2004). After five years in the wilderness, Mañas is making a come back with "Anything You Want" (2010). Rating : Better than average , well worth watching .
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8/10
The pellet
jotix1007 December 2005
Child abuse is not one of the things that film makers love to tackle. This practice seems to be universal, yet little about is seen. Acero Manas, the director of this movie that deals with this subject, is about one of the few that has come forward to make a case for the young children that are physically abused by a brutish parent.

El Bola is a teen ager we meet playing a dangerous game at the railroad tracks near Madrid. It's a game where two opponents jump to pick up something from the track as a suburban train is about to pass by. Young Pablo is nicknamed "The Pellet" because of the ball he keeps with him as a token for good luck.

Pablo's home life is marked by unhappiness and grief caused by the tragic death of a sibling. The sullen parents have to struggle tending the sick, and elderly mother of Mariano, the father. Pablo is made to help with the old lady's bath, something a small boy should not be called to do.

Into Pablo's life comes Alfredo, who joins the class, evidently at the middle of the school term. Pablo sees a kind of normal pal in the new arrival and seeks the boy to be with. That meets with the father's wrath, as he considers the new friend as trash because Alfredo's father, Jose, is a tattoo artist. In reality, Alfredo comes from a good home with caring parents. Pablo sees a normal way of life in his friend's house. The friendship brings the worst in Mariano who beats the young man harder to the point that he needs medical attention.

"El Bola" is a film that depicts the abuse openly and it hits the viewer as a low punch to the stomach. Nothing justifies the way Pablo is beaten senselessly by a father that should be made accountable for what he is doing to his son; the images one sees are revolting. Director Manas makes his point in showing what an animal the old man is by taking all his frustrations on Pablo.

The acting is good in general. Juan Jose Balleste plays Pablo with ease for a young actor who seems to be a natural. Pablo Galan is Alfredo, the true friend. Alberto Jimenez portrays Jose, and Manuel Moron makes a brutish Mariano believable.

Achero Manas asks a lot from his audience. Although child abuse is a disgusting practice, it goes on, probably much more than one realizes. This is a crude film that doesn't offer any happy solution to the problem, or how to avoid it and it's an eye opener as to how the action of a man, that shouldn't have had children, and will scar the young son for life.
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10/10
life's a roller coaster: ups and downs... but at what level does it end ?
ic_icey16 November 2004
Well, after watching this movie, i felt that this one would be my favorite for a long time. Now three years later nothing about that has changed. Let's check how El Bola's life has been changed...

I've also seen movies like "boys of st Vincent" and "song for a raggy boy", but this movie about child abuse is just different. The movies i mentioned have great (young)actors too, but this movie make you realize that this might be your neighbour boy's story. If you start watching the movie, you feel that something's wrong with El Bola ("Pellet") but you just don't know what. And i guess that's one of the strengths of this movie: it's not only told in a natural way, but it's rather suggestive. And a lot of people are disappointed that the movie's just cut after 88 minutes without a proper ending, but i think that's the way it goes in real life too : a life/story is like a roller coaster: it has it ups and downs, but the only thing that matters is where it ends

But this movie wouldn't be the same without the strong soundtrack (highly recommended) and it's young cast. El Bola is played by Juan José Ballesta (my favorite young actor) who also appears in the interesting and touching "planta 4a". He has also a very small role in a movie a mentioned before : "song for a raggy boy" (as the young friend of the teacher in the flash backs)
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9/10
Muy buena
sohell1 July 2002
I think El bola is a pretty good movie. But what calls my attention is the acting. I think they make the movie believable. You really feel like they are going through all what they go through. You forget that you are sitting there watching a movie in the theatre and feel like you are watching a documentary or living it. Also that it's not corny or heroic with a "happy ending", it's real, and straight-forward, that is one of it's qualities. They tell you a story that happens everyday and they are not trying to be original about it, they just narrate it simply and honestly.
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10/10
Deeply moving story of a secrets, lies, and the power of friendship.
pic-critx1 December 2002
Great film. You'll recall classics like Truffaut's 400 BLOWS. There are scenes of such warmth and such brutal stillness, it made me want to reach into the screen and affect the course of these characters lives. A lot of assumptions I made about these characters were challenged along the way. It's rare that a film actually teaches you something about yourself. Phenomenal cast and director who deserved the Best Director and 5 Goya (Spanish Oscars) the film received. El Bola's abusive father was played to a perfect pitch by Manuel Moron as a cold, abusive father, turned sheepish when the outside world learns of his transgressions against his own son. You want to strangle him! Turns out it was a Spanish indie underdog that upset a lot of larger, bigger Spanish films. Like the other reviews say, be prepared to laugh, cry, and become infuriated. Definitely a film to check out and a director to watch!!!
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6/10
Timely sociological document
Keith F. Hatcher9 February 2003
At present, unfortunately, Spain is suffering the highest level of child-beating and badly treated wives of all Europe. Around 60 women are killed each year by their husbands, ex-husbands, lovers, etc., and every day children are taken into hospitals after being savagely beaten by, mostly, their fathers, though there are also frequent cases of both mother and father taking part in the treatment metered out.

It would not be strictly correct to affirm that this film, `El Bola' directed by Achero Mañas, reflects this sociological situation, and probably was not the intention anyway: there were other important issues that had to be unveiled, too. However, in brief, we could say that the film is basically concerned with the physical punishment Pablo (El Bola) receives from his father, a small business owner, frustrated and bored with life. Pablo receives refuge from a sympathetic family, but the problems do not stop there.

Well directed, above all keeping the violence within strict proportions to the import of the story, and in general good interpretations which do not tend to unnecessarily exaggerate the crude and difficult situations being enacted. Special mention, of course, is well deserved for the main actor – Juan José Ballesta, about 11 years old. He had a very secondary rôle in `El Embrujo de Shanghai' (qv), and thus surprised me at being able to deliver such a performance in this film: obviously the director's careful handling of the young lad, as well as some excellent rapport with the other actors, especially Nieve de Medina, holds the film on course.

I hope that this younger generation of Spanish directors, such as Achero Mañas and of course Fernando León de Aranoa (Los Lunes al Sol, qv, also with Nieve de Medina) can keep up the good work in the sociological sphere with real human stories to tell.

WARNING: this film necessarily includes a scene of extreme child violence carried out by his overwrought father, and thus care should be taken by parents. The Spanish rating of only for over 13s should not be taken seriously: over 18 would be more appropriate. The scene is short; the film is not only about violence as it has many other ingredients. However, this brief scene is very hard on the senses.
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9/10
Spoiler perhaps: Terrific (but)
peophd26 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Love this film. The lead is a star as is his friend's father José. I gotta complain though about the plot conceit to add drama. Child abuse in Madrid is a crime; this is confirmed at the end of the film. The obvious solution should start with the police. The boy is going to have broken healed bones everywhere, including his nose, no matter what he's willing to admit. Why deal with all-night legal discussions, an emergency room, and driving the streets of Madrid looking for El Bola. Their friend giving them legal advice failed to take this child directly to La Policia, required by law, as was the physician's and nurse's duty. The writer could have included the legal facts and safest help for Pablo by going straight to the police. And, there's no need to notify Pablo's parents that you've got their son; it's the middle of the night and everything can be faced four hours later in the morning without any fear of a kidnapping charge (ridiculous, because the number of witnesses involved, no one could not pin this on anyone but the father - with his bruised hands. I don't mean to quibble; I just hate when a terrific story is marred by incredulity.
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7/10
Reminded of Dostoevsky's parable (in a quiet way)---
Manicheus21 October 2003
What is particulary gut-wrenching about this film is being reminded very vividly how utterly helpless our children actually are once delivered to the mercies of adults. It must remind one of Dostoevsky's great parable questioning the very foundations of faith and life on this planet: the tears of a brutalized child, how can anything be right if the innocence itself gets choked and humiliated so early on? Who knows how many millions upon millions of defencless little men and women gets brutalized physically and mentally on an endless train of abuse? And to think that this is the age where there's at least some inkling of how horridly despicable abuse patterns are. +++ *Within this framework, shore, one would find the delicate homage to Les 400 Coups (the amusement park scenes, the friendship among the city boys...) *The music score is so brilliant that is stand out on its very own.
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Misleading vocabulary in the film
lagiluomo5 May 2006
Hi all, I've just presented this film to my students, I'm a lecturer at Purdue University(IN) and I read the comments here. I have to say that many people are completely wrong when they think that el Alfredo's parents are homosexual. You have to be aware that Spanish language is quite genuine when talking about curses. The fact that Alfredo's father calls his friend "maricón" (literary, "faggot") does not imply AT ALL that he is actually homosexual, it's only a very informal way of addressing a friend, you have to be aware that it is a very different culture. When I read that someone wrote that he found very strange that Alfredo's parents were homosexual, it called my attention and I wanted to double check that, because I really know Spanish culture and society and you can be sure that that is not normal there in Spain so far. Well, I just wanted to point that out. Thank you very much.
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Flawed diamond
Zahgurim-222 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
There is a gaping flaw in the plot of this otherwise fine movie. The abused boy, Pablo, is taken to a hospital emergency room and his injured eyes stitched up by a doctor. In the real world, the examination of this beaten boy would immediately trigger an investigation of "trauma X". The hospital and the doctor are legally (and ethically) required to report all cases of potential child abuse.

Perhaps Alberto's family may fear that they will be accused. X-rays can reveal prior healed fractures, and the pattern of healed scars and of the present injuries would reliably point to abuse predating Pablo's acquaintance with Alfredo and his family.

It is very strange to watch a movie that unfolds with realistic portraits of the two families and their social milieus and then jump to a completely implausible ethical dilemma of whether or not Pablo should be returned to his abusive father.
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****SPOILER ALERT**** A Potentially Good Film Collapses Into Implausability
kinolieber6 April 2002
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILER ALERT ***

This film is well acted (particularly by its child actors) with a heart-wrenching story of child abuse and the loyalty of children to each other. It also portrays an alternative to the abusive dysfunctional family of the abused boy, by delving into the dynamics of the family of the abused boy's friend. One very original touch is the way a child who is essentially wise and responsible and mature beyond his years (the well-adjusted best friend) is misunderstood by his 'hip' parent who assumes that the child is deceiving him and behaving in the irresponsible and foolish way that the father did as a child. Unfortunately, the film completely collapses when the adults behave in a way that is absolutely unbelievable. Is there something about Spanish society that I'm not aware of? A child is brutally beaten by his father, runs for help to the family of his best friend where he shows up bloody and bruised, is taken to the hospital by this caring family AND THERE IS NO INTERVENTION BY THE POLICE???? Are not hospitals required to report child abuse when it is so blatant and when the child is forthcoming about the perpetrator? How could a caring adult not report the boy's father to the police? And how could he insist that the child return to his own home where he is certainly in danger of being further injured or even killed? It was at this point that I left the theatre. Whatever the outcome, the film had become a pointless narrative with no relationship to reality.
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8/10
Very moving and perhaps NOT for everyone.
MartinHafer18 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The first 20 or so minutes of this film didn't engage me very much. Other than think that many of the kids were idiots (as they played a game like Chicken with oncoming trains) and cursed too much, I really didn't think much one way of the other. However, as the film continued, the plot took an unexpected twist as you learn that the title character (a kid who looks to be about 11 years-old) is being seriously abused by his god-awful father. The violence he inflicts is amazingly realistic in one scene and so this film is provisionally recommended. While it was very well made, children and people who were victims of child abuse probably should not watch it--and I could see the film instigating flashbacks of abuse. However, aside from this warning, the film is well constructed, extremely well acted and engaging. You really can't stop watching after a while because it really hooks you. See this film--just think twice about who you ask to watch it with you.
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7/10
a worthy, humane film...
vanessapeeters26 July 2003
This film breaks no new ground and yet it is a very worthy example of a kind of cinema that very slightly fictionalizes a subject so that something like child abuse can be explored without it seeming like an out and out docudrama. But that's essentially what it is. Here, the filmmaker unfortunately shines no real light on the subject of child abuse; other than to say--its bad. Yet, there are some very fine subtle performances. On display are adult sensibilities. Things are not oversentimentalized.
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9/10
Quite a switch
ricrisci10 April 2002
El Bola ostensibly resides in a "normal" family however this appearance only serves to disguise the physical abuse constantly being meted out to him by his father. He befriends a classmate who takes him home where he gets acceptance, loving and nurturance he lacks. His friends father is gay, mother lesbian and a good friend working the carnival lets the boys in free for a kiss. It is this "abnormal" family which rescues him from his torture. It is this positive portrayal which I found so uplifting.
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Spoiler: a well-acted and believable film
matthewfstark22 March 2004
Warning: Spoilers
One of the criticisms lodged against this moving film is that towards its end the actions of the adults are not believable. I actually found it very believable. The best friends' parents are advised that if they do not either return the abused boy to his parents or go to the police they could be accused of kidnapping, or even worse, the father could say that when his son left the house he was fine, and it was they who inflicted the marks on his childs' body. shocking and unjust as this may seem, the reality is - and, as a victim of child abuse, i feel quite qualified in saying this - that even though the law states otherwise, children are often powerless to fight abuse. For instance: once when I was beaten by my stepfather I ran to the police station and told them what had happened. The police called my parents, asked them if what I was saying was true, my staepdad told them i was making up stories, that i had fallen off my bike and was lying because I was angry about having to do my homework. The police took me home and I was promptly beaten for almost getting him into trouble. So... in Pellet, the best friends fathers fears of legal repercussions for intervening were actually, in my opinion, justified.
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8/10
A dark tale of a boy suffering from abuse and how a friendship saved his life.
tmdarosa10 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
El Bola is a dramatic film directed by Acero Mañas, that tells the story of a twelve year old boy named El Bola, who is raised in a violent and unforgiving environment. This movie was released in New York City, on December 13, 2002 and is considered one of Acero Mañas' best films to date. As a result of Mañas' success, his movie won four Goya Awards that includes best film, best emerging director, best original screenplay, and best emerging actor. After watching this amazing film, there is no question as to why this film received so many awards and has become a favorite for many viewers. Pablo a.k.a. "El Bola" is a twelve-year-old boy who suffers abuse from his father. The reason he is called El Bola is because he carries a gold ball-bearing in his pocket for luck. However, due to his unfortunate circumstances it is possible that his ball-bearing actually represents stability and some protection given that he lives in a very vicious household. His violent family situation prevents him from having friends at school until the a new kid, Alfredo, arrives at his school. The warm, caring atmosphere in Alfredo's family juxtaposes Pablo's oppressive situation under his father. With the help of Alfredo, Pablo finds a different reality in his new friend's family who teaches him to confront with courage his worst fears.One of the key themes that this movie expresses is the breaking of the traditional family stereotypes. Many people believe that maintaining a traditional family is the correct way to live. However, I think that this movie opposes this idea. For example, in the movie there are two different families that live two completely different lifestyles. Pablo's family, although on the outside appears very traditional and normal, is actually filled with violence and hostility. Technically, Pablo's family does fit within the typical roles of a traditional family, that atmosphere and the relationships are very dysfunctional, but mostly violent. This family contrasts Alfredo's family, who most people would believe is more of the problematic family due to their carefree lifestyle and more rebellious appearance. Alfredo's father, José, is a tattoo artist and has many tattoos himself, along with his wife and Alfredo. The family is not religious and is very accepting with homosexuality, considering many of their friends are gay. However, as the film continues many family scenes show that they are more healthy, educational and possess a better family relationship than Pablo's family.
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8/10
Very strong!
Ioanna K21 November 2012
Strong film about domestic violence, abuse, fear and friendship. A must-see film for everyone. The actors are really good, the atmosphere changes from cold and ghostly to warm, sweet and humane and the other way round, so you somehow feel like getting a "Scottish shower" of feelings. Even if that film left me with a rather bitter taste on my lips, I would recommend it to everyone. Some may even cry... so be prepared, because it is quite strong. Also, I wouldn't recommend to watch this film with very small children, because the scenes may really hurt them. I would recommend this for ages 13+, but don't show it to small kids, it'd be like torture.
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8/10
Child abuse is sick
Vishal Agrawal29 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Pablo is 12 years old and is abused by his father while his friend Alfredo and Alfredo's family watch.

Film is done in a very interesting style. Not much violence is used. Pablo isn't shown doing great histrionics. Father also isn't shown a neurotic or a psychopath. It's just that their chemistry has gone wrong somewhere and they can't get along. Pablo comes across as a energetic, non-conformist boy. Relationship between all the characters are very real and full of daily conversation. Film doesn't have a single dull moment.

Pablo's father steals the show here. Great acting. Acting is mostly above average and cinematography is amazing. Pablo is really very good and so is his friend. Scene where Alfredos father pull up Pablo and Alfredo in the car is very good. I kept wondering what would be the end of the film. To my expectation the ending was perfect ending. Good film. 8/10.
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3/10
Overrated
korrontean19 June 2007
This must be one of the most overrated Spanish films in history. Its lack of subtlety and complexity and its total political correction make it really childish, with only good/bad characters. The world is just not like this, and good movies show complex characters with opposite impulses, dilemmas, etc. However, what I HATE most about this film is Bola's friend's father. The director tries to teach us a good lesson: tattoo artists with shaved heads are not always bad guys, in fact they can be better than the average looking dad (wow, this is like... philosophy, or something). Thank you, Achero. I'll propose you for the Nobel prize of literature.
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8/10
A great movie for a disgusting topic
murdockcrc17 May 2007
Unfortunately, child abuse is still something that is seen these days, even in countries so much developed as Europe.

In this case, El Bola is the story of a kid physically abused by his strict and violent father. The movie does a great job to show the whole panorama of this complicated situation. El Bola's life is surrounded by misery, his family is a chaos, his mother is submissive to her aggressive husband, his situation at school is not better, and in general, the movie shows how being abused causes the abused kid to fail is every aspect of life.

El Bola meets a new friend, which turns out to have a great and loving family. This is part of the other part of the problematic: how normal families fail to act appropriately when they find out a child they know is beaten up by his parents.

In summary, the movie exposes this hard topic with class and elegance, sometimes showing very brute and harsh scenes, that nonetheless, are necessary to shake up the audience's feelings and make them understand the importance this matter has.
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10/10
A Boy's Pain
nycritic25 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Domestic violence has never been an easy topic to get into when telling a story due to the fact it's just too sensitive an issue to see depicted on screen and there's the danger of exploitation. Achero Mañas 2000 film EL BOLA, one of the big winners of the 2001 Goya Awards, explores the issue of child abuse through the culture's very machismo -- one that perpetuates that it's okay if the father imposes his will over his family, because he's the breadwinner and he's always right. It's a system that has the essence of repetition and even today continues to live on. (A similar issue would be explored on a very veiled level in 2002's VALENTIN, and more explicitly in 2003's TE DOY MIS OJOS.)

In this story, Pedro, a.k.a. El Bola due to a small malleable pellet he constantly holds, is a lonely boy going to school who has few to no friends. At home, his father Mariano is everything but loving: he's a tyrant who forces his will and his anger almost constantly at Pedro who lives in total fear of him. However, a new boy in school, Alberto, prompts Pedro to come out of his shell and both become friends. Pedro becomes accepted in Alberto's family, particularly Jose, Alberto's father, who treats his son as a friend more than a son. On the other hand, Mariano doesn't see this friendship as something his son needs and progressively tries to keep him away from them until Alberto becomes aware of some telling marks on Pedro's body and takes matter into his own hands, having Jose alert the help of a social worker. However, things aren't that easy and her very intervention could backfire. That is, until one night, the violence in Pedro's home escalates to a point where actions must be taken.

Achero Mañas has created a movie that should be seen no matter how difficult some of the scenes between Pedro and Mariano may be. The only way to understand the horror of family abuse in the name of obedience and respect -- Mariano sees Jose as a pervert because he makes his living as a tattoo artist. Indeed, many of our parents would have reacted the same way if our friend's parents lived a "different" lifestyle. In many ways, Mariano and Jose represent Spain's past and future -- Mariano being the extreme conservative, Jose being the man of the future. Both actors are well cast in their roles. Manuel Moron has the physicality that suggests a brutal man, while Alberto Gimenez, despite his skinhead appearance which suggests counterculture, is a gentle man who unless pushed does not show aggression.

It's because of these two vastly different fathers that their son's personalities come through the way they do: Alberto is quietly confident. He has no issues other than the ones appropriate for his age -- typical growing pains. Pedro, however, has been raised in a house full of violence. His mother can't do much, though she would like to. It's not hard to see that in his closing confession, Pedro pours his feelings out for the very first time, and it's a barrage of emotion: the problem is, it's all negative, sheer hatred, all directed towards this man who has beat him for no other reason that he was an easy target. EL BOLA offers even at this most extreme moment a semblance of hope -- it does seem Pedro is under some form of therapy -- so in this way, Pedro's final outburst is not just his, but goes for every boy and girl who suffered under the hurtful hand of a parent. In this way, EL BOLA has a powerful message and conveys it beautifully.
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10/10
Good, really good
lacasito_0126 December 2005
Although I agree that the plot is fairly common, I have a few comments on this movie. First of all, Juan José Ballesta's acting was, as always, brilliant. He certainly deserved the Goya that he got and I thought he was excellently cast as El Bola. As a response to other reviewers, I must tell you that it's unfortunately true that there is not much one can do to stop child abuse, so that part of the plot is absolutely correct. If a child called the police and said "I'm being abused and beaten." the police would likely laugh. Although it's been a long time since I've seen El Bola, if I had the DVD here I would watch it again at once. That's how much I liked it. I can't remember it very well, I just remember thinking that it was really well done and I think I nearly cried (or perhaps I did?). One of the things that I consider strange was Alfredo's parents, homosexuality is not as common as you might think, and I didn't believe that was a good value to add to the film, I thought for the parents of Alfredo there should have been more conventional people. Whatever people think, this movie is an accurate portrayal of something that, unfortunately, happens. It could easily be the story of your next-door neighbor, without you having any idea. Overall, I think that the movie is really good, and although not outstanding, definitely worthy of your 2 hours. I give it my two thumbs up.
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10/10
Everything this movie shows is great
Andres Rais11 February 2002
Let's start from the beginning. El bola is a guy. Her dad is unhuman but you can see in certain parts of the movie his feelings. He beats him... and el bola tries to escape. His newly mate at school and his dad helps him. Check out the score... the performance of Alberto Jimenez as the mate's father and the face of Juan Jose Ballesta (El bola). He shows everything. Be prepared to cry, to feel angry or to feel something. This movie sticks into your brain and heart. It is worth seeing it. Check out every detail. Don't miss it. Honestly speaking.
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10/10
Warm, touching and fantastically believable performances...
littlefurrymonster28 October 2001
Worthy award winner, this Spanish film is a must-see for all who enjoy brilliantly acted, socially-relevant films with eminently believable characters.

I rented this out last year when I was in Spain without any knowledge of its content, having heard no publicity, only based on its showing at the Cesar Awards. I was rewarded by its touching portrayal of a small boy growing-up in the midst of a violent father.

I'd certainly never heard of the film before, but was telling all the people I met about how great it was for months after.
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