26 October 2008 | gradyharp
THE GOOD BOY ( aka SEGUNDO ASALTO and ROUND TWO) is a superb little film from Spain, written by Imanol Uribe based on a story by director Daniel Cebrián. For some reason the film was marketed in the US as a gay themed movie, probably because of the poster/DVD jacket of star Álex González' finely trained torso. Viewers should be alerted that this is not a film with a gay theme but instead a film that focuses on the universal theme of coming of age, this particular time in the seedy sector of South Madrid. With a cast of fine actors well directed by Cebrián this is a superbly woven tale that makes no judgments, but instead encourages the viewer to participate in viewing the struggles of a young lad who wants to make a better life for himself and his single mother.
Angel (Álex González) devotes his time and hopes for success as a boxer under the guidance of his father-figure trainer Paco "El Tigre" (Pepe Oliva), a man who is idealistic and wants Angel to win the big fights when he is physically ready, not when the fight can be 'bought'. Money struggles at home and emotional struggles set the stage for the entrance on Vidal (Darío Grandinetti), a mysterious ex-boxer who has returned to Spain from Argentina, has occult bonds with Angel's family, and introduces Angel to the underground world of crime. Angle's needs to provide for his mother and to attempt to rise in the world encourage him to participate in a bank robbery with Vidal. Once bitten by the bug of easy money Angel bonds with Vidal, brings in his best friend to join in the easy money , and marches toward what will become a tragedy. How Angel rationalizes his diversion from his passion for the boxing ring to the seductive world of Vidal's design leads to an ending of the film that is left open to the viewer's decision as to Angel's future. The final scene is one of great beauty and emotional power - boxing in the ring becomes a subtle metaphor.
Boasting a strong cast of actors, this film succeeds on many levels: it is a solid story with an open ending, it is beautifully photographed by Gonzalo F. Berridi to heighten the mood of the film, and the accompanying musical score by Iván Miguélez maintains the flavor of the sparing. This is a very fine Spanish film that deserves a wide audience. In Spanish with English subtitles. Grady Harp