I am officially labeling El Niño Que Gritó Puta one of the greatest films ever made. Just finished watching it and could hardly describe what I feel – in fact it worries me a bit as I am afraid that the review of the film is going to be a bit more emotional than usual . But that is a good thing – isn`t it ?
When the set the film in my DVD player I had no idea that it would be that powerful. Indeed the first scenes are quite misleading – and it rather reminded me of Twelve and Holding. What impressed me straight away was the film soundtrack – composed by Wendy Blackstone it was powerful and really which emphasizes the drama of a story. At first we see boys fooling around and their mother obviously is unable to control them – first they are too wild and then they seemed to luck much respect to her. It is those scenes in which we are introduced to the young protagonist of the film the 12-year-old Harley Cross who delivers a first class performance as a confused and psychotic adolescent. We first see him as capricious and impulsive young lad but learn a lot more about him as the story develops.It must have been quite challenging for him to play such a complicated role. His facial expressions , his eyes – I can assure you that you are going to remember them for a long time after seeing the film.
I would like to quote of of my favorite movie reviewers Marc Savlov who in his review of The Boys Who Cried Bitch excellently described the talents of Harley Cross :
“Harley Cross, as Dan, has managed to tap into a gold mine of talent. He’s all ticks, stutters, gleaming eyes and mood swings, thoroughly convincing as a juvenile psychotic, while at the same time imbuing his character with a terrible inner sadness and confusion.
It’s rare to see a young actor come across so convincingly in such a deep and powerful role, but Cross is a master of the game here, and Dan Love is as believable as a gunshot in the night. ” (link to the original review of Marc Savlov)
Of course Harley Cross is not the only excellent actor in the movie – as the whole cast and over acting are first class. I would just mention Jesse Bradford (who himself delivered a great performance in this film and in King of the Hill :
If I am to label the first scenes – they can easily fit under the title ” Bad boy tutorial ” and I am sure that many parents would rather not want for their sons to see how the young Dan behaved. To me it seems that the young boy just lacked some affection – and his mother failed to recognize his needs preoccupied with her own self. Dan was quite aggressive towards her – and that is probably many of you would be surprised seeing him at school – where he befriends the maintenance guy who happened to be a Vietnam vet . The man teaches the boy to how fire an arm and they seem to get pretty well together – even if for some reason Dan changes totally when he is around the war veteran – he seems a bit nervous which I guess its normal since in the absence of his father he takes the man like a male role model.Their friendship seems a bit odd at times as Dan seems to order the man around – asking him to get some food and beverage for him and his brothers . This scene was indeed quite odd – even if younger people are often known for such demands . The thing is that the war veteran has some physiological issues himself and after firing at the girl`s dorm with his gun he gets arrested and taken away. For the boy this arrest is chocking as he loses his friend – and role model. That shock influences the boy`s already unstable mentality and during the night a boy from his dorm sees the traumatized Dan- sitting on floor , blabbering …
Dan is being send to the hospital (or rather a psychiatric institution) – in which the doctors are supposed to help him control his reactions. The doctors also think that he suffers froom behavioral psychopathy, paranoia, obsession, stereotyped movements, attacks compulsive and uncontrollable behavior. Unfortunately they fail to help them – much like his mother – who I felt could have helped him if she cared a bit more. In fact after watching the film I had dispute with my own mother – who felts that I being too hard on the mother of Dan – yet I think that she has a lot to do with the way the boy behaves .
Juan Jose Campanella – the Argentinian director of El Niño Que Gritó Puta crated a real masterpiece. I highly recommend this coming of age films despite its dark overtones as it offers insightful and powerful emotional journey through a troubled teen’s life.