Gay-themed films often deal with fairly typical subject matters: the coming out process,
first love, the struggles of relationships (often between two hunks who easily could have stepped
out of an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog), etc., etc. Perhaps it’s the lack of imagination on the
part of American indie filmmakers, or maybe it’s a bias of those funding such efforts but there
are various segments of gay life that almost never get depicted on screen. European filmmakers
don’t seem to share the same problems. Filmmakers as diverse as Ferzan Ozpetek and Pedro
Almodóvar willingly explore aspects of homosexuality that most American directors shy from.
Another name now can be added to that list, Miguel Albaladejo, the co-writer and director of
the sweetly charming BEAR CUB.
Pedro (José Luis García Pérez) is a dentist with an active sex life and a thriving practice
in Madrid. The premise of the film is fairly simple: Pedro’s hippie sister Violeta (Elvira Lindo)
leaves her nine-year-old son Bernardo (David Castillo) in his charge while she flits off to India
on holiday with her new boyfriend. While Bernardo is cramping his style a bit, Pedro adjusts fairly
quickly and comes to realize that he genuinely likes the boy. It doesn’t hurt that he’s able to rely
on his landlady Gloria (Josele Román) and her daughter Lola (Diana Cerezo) to watch the kid
while he tends to his patients. By the time Violeta gets detained in Southeast Asia, though, the
two have forged a tight bond.
Of course, there are problems to overcome and the biggest one to surmount is the boy’s
paternal grandmother Doña Teresa (Empar Ferrar). While Violeta has tried to keep her from
the boy, the wily older woman has managed to keep tabs on him. And she’s convinced that she
would be a better guardian than a gay man. While she takes some pretty extreme measures
(including a subtle form of blackmail), she is also a three-dimensional character whose bitterness
is fueled by her being denied a role in the boy’s life.
Screenwriters Albaladejo and Salvador García Ruiz manage to tell a tale of family love that
is heartwarming, funny and enjoyable. BEAR CUB (admittedly not the best title) shows a group
of gay men that don’t look like handsome clones prevalent on Showtime’s “QUEER AS FOLK.”
Instead, it depicts heavyset men who are comfortable with their looks, sexual beings and
compassionate individuals. The lead performances of García Pérez and particularly child actor
Castillo are exemplary.
The DVD release by TLA Releasing includes several scenes that are more sexually explicit
than those shown in the theater. There are also a couple of deleted scenes that were wisely
excised from the film as they detract from the main story.
MPAA Rating: Theatrical version R for sexuality, drug use and language;
Running time: DVD 98 mins.
|© 2008 by C.E. Murphy. All Right Reserved.