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Movie Review by Alice Castle

Starring: Juan Jose Ballesta, Pablo Galan, Alberto Jimenez, Manuel Morón
Director: Achero Manas

In a film about the friendship between two twelve year old boys, well you’d hardly expect scintillating dialogue, perhaps a few boasts about who’s got the highest score on a computer game, who can smoke a cigarette and maybe the odd dirty joke for good measure. Achero Manas’ EL BOLA is a surprise though. It tells the story of twelve year-old Pablo (Juan Jose Ballesta) or Pellet, as his known as, an only child living in Madrid and his friendship with a new boy at school Alfredo (Pablo Galan). Both boys are born into normal working class families – Pellet’s father is an ironmonger and Alfredo’s a talented tattoo artist. The boys become pals in the uncomplicated way boys do – Pellet turns up at Alfredo’s door and asks him if he wants to play out – and soon they are in their own little gang of two. As they get to know each other Alfredo, who comes from a very loving family, finds out that life is not so harmonious at home for the small and gentle Pellet.

Pellet begins to gain confidence as his friendship with Alfredo and his family develops and despite his father’s objections he begins to spend more time with his friend. The two boys are wonderful young actors and thoroughly convincing in the difficult roles they play out. As a viewer you find yourself praying that Pellet can change the course of his life so that he will not be injured by his dysfunctional home life. As the film reaches its climax it seems it’s not easy to be a boy, or a man, even in a machismo society that is blue collar Madrid.

5 out of 6 stars