How refreshing it is to see, for once, gay characters who don’t look like buff, smooth Chelsea clones. How surprising to find a gay comedy that doesn’t shy away from life’s ugly, tawdry details. Yes, the men in Bear Cub are husky, burly, and proud. Pedro, a Madrid dentist (José Luis García Pérez), gets saddled with his nine-year-old nephew Bernardo when the latter’s hippie mom goes on a soul-searching tour of India and gets busted for possession. Sure, the boy cramps Pedro’s style at first—no more partying with his hirsute pals or cruising the saunas—but they grow to like each other. Things get hairier when the kid’s grandmother (Empar Ferrer), who seems to have strayed in from a Lorca tragedy, starts a custody battle. If the film succeeds, it’s due in no small part to David Castillo’s remarkable performance as the young Bernardo. More important, though, Spanish director Miguel Albaladejo bursts the post-Almodóvar gay-ghetto movie bubble—a land heretofore untouched by loneliness, disease, or homophobia—with unflinching honesty. Bear Cub is much smarter than the average comedy.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 26, 2004