11 September 2004 | sergiogsanchez-2
End of summer, end of childhood.
"El Hombre Esponja" (Spongeman) tells the story of Jonathan, a ten year-old
growing up up in a fantasy-like Barcelona suburb where kids spend their
afternoons playing mock baseball and listening to the amazing adventures of
Spongeman, a superhero created by El Jefe, their summer camp monitor.
Jonathan and all the kids have a special bond with El Jefe that is broken with the arrival of Socorro, the monitor's troubled girlfriend, and suddenly the world is not such an innocent place, as Jonathan discovers that heroes are not always
that dependable and villains have a heart too.
A simple yet touching coming of age story, "El hombre Esponja" is shot
beautifully with brisk effectiveness by J.A. Bayona, who never allows the film to get too sappy and manages to get amazing performances from the kids and the
two grown-ups, Zoe Berriatúa and the lovely Graciela Molina, who makes
Socorro/Onion-Girl easy to fall for. Technically the film is outstanding, specially Bernat Bosch's lighting and use of scope and Fernando Velázquez's triumphant
It's not easy to come across a short film as fully accomplished as this one. J.A. Bayona is one of the most promising young directors in Spain these days (fellow short film directors Jorge Torregrossa and Guillem Morales are two to watch
closely as well). Watch this little gem if you can while we wait (let's hope
not for too long) for Bayona's feature debut.