El Bola
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A boy from an abusive home finds a new lease on life through friendship in this drama from Spain. Pablo (Juan Jose Ballesta) is a 12-year-old boy growing up in an underprivileged neighborhood in Madrid. Pablo doesn't have many friends, and his home life is not happy -- his father Mariano (Manuel Maron) often beats him, and his mother Aurora (Golria Munoz) doesn't know what to do about it. Alfredo (Pablo Galan) is a new boy in town who has just enrolled in Pablo's class at school; Pablo and Alfredo strike up an immediate friendship, and Pablo feels comfortable with Alfredo's… More
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Mana gives us compelling, damaged characters who we want to help -- or hurt."
‑ Robert K. Elder, Chicago Tribune
"As blunt as it is in depicting child abuse, El Bola is a movie steeped in an ambiguity that lends its conflicts a symbolic resonance."
‑ Stephen Holden, New York Times
"An exceptional film."
‑ Maria Garcia, Film Journal International
"Not employing gimmicks or tipping off the nightmare to be faced,'El Bola' draws us in."
‑ Donald J. Levit, ReelTalk Movie Reviews
"Never [sinks] into exploitation."
‑ V.A. Musetto, New York Post
"Deliberately and skillfully uses ambiguity to suggest possibilities which imbue the theme with added depth and resonance."
‑ Arthur Lazere, culturevulture.net
"Though uniformly well acted, especially by young Ballesta and Galan (a first-time actor), writer/director Achero Manas's film is schematic and obvious."
‑ Maitland McDonagh, TV Guide's Movie Guide
"At once subtle and visceral, the film never succumbs to the trap of the maudlin or tearful, offering instead with its unflinching gaze a measure of faith in the future."
‑ Leslie Camhi, Village Voice
"A simple, but gritty and well-acted ensemble drama that encompasses a potent metaphor for a country still dealing with its fascist past."
‑ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide
"Although largely a heavy-handed indictment of parental failings ... the film retains ambiguities that make it well worth watching"
‑ John A. Nesbit, Old School Reviews
More reviews for El Bola on Rotten Tomatoes