Really tough semi documentary thriller about life in the streets of Caracas. Two stories intermingle: The rise and fall of a drug capo fighting with a younger ruthless rival for the control of his barrio and that of Oliver (a well chosen name!), a child of around 8 or 9 years old, sent off to the street by his mother just to make her newly found husband happy. What follows is unbelievable, yet true. Oliver has to accommodate to his new life, in an extremely harsh world, and ends up literally in the gutter.
Most of the actors are non professional, locations are real, etc. Even so acting is really top notch, as most tech work, and the story is really well filmed.
Well crafted and very funny story, really a new working of the old "boy meets girl, boy loses girl,..." etc. cliché. Nothing you haven't seen before. But the cast goes around their plot so charmingly that you are really taken away. The film established Ariadna Gil as a major actress, was the first major role of Javier Bardem, and had some memorable contributions from Pere Ponce and the rest of the cast.
Infectious, entertaining, and with something really difficult to find in Spanish movies: A believable description of the country and its people. What you see is Spain in 1991, the director really manages to nail down the spirit of the time and the place.
A romanticised and thoroughly false vision of unemployment from a middle class "artist" with a comfortable upbringing... It is clear that the writer-director never suffered unemployment directly and certainly has no personal experience of it. If you had to believe this absolutely ridiculous story, unemployed men of all ages behave like teenagers, have no anger, no fear, no frustration, etc. All the characters live trough the day by carrying pranks, boyish jokes. They do never look for work, the do almost never experience rejection or anguish, etc. Living on the dole is just about like a summer vacation from school... Ridiculous. Specially if you compare it with contemporary masterpieces from the likes of Ken Loach, etc.