Geeky frustrated innocence

Boy-loves-boy story true to its age

In the summer before their 18th birthday, best friends Nico and Dani are left alone in Dani’s parents’ luxurious house by the beach.

In the hands of Hollywood this would be cause to resurrect yet again the tired teen exploits of American Pie or Ferris Beuller. The boys would chase sex and adventure all about town and much hilarity would ensue.

Thankfully, Spanish filmmaker Cesc Gay is not part of that formulaic system. Instead, the film Nico And Dani treats us to a real story of emerging boyhood sexuality complete with all its inherent awkwardness.

Don’t be mistaken, Nico and Dani also chase sex and adventure about town – but the result is not hilarity but discomfort, furtive sex and disconnectedness. Eventually it all resolves into honest friendship.

At the core of the story is the puberty driven mutual masturbation that the two have been sharing for years. (The original title for the film was Kråmpack – Spanish slang roughly equivalent to circle jerk.) As the boys become men, these sessions are taking on added meaning for Dani. He has started to recognize his attraction to men and specifically to his good friend.

Nico’s eyes are turning elsewhere as he tries to impress the girls in town with the size of his Adam’s apple and other signs of masculinity.

These contrary drives form the heart of the film’s conflict which Gay develops through each excruciating development. Different then the many boy-love-boy coming of age films, Nico And Dani tells its story through the bluntly clumsy sexual moments that the boys share.

But don’t expect Bel Ami softcore porn. As explicitly as the boys’ sexuality is depicted, Gay is more interested in looking at the emotional significance in these moments rather then the simple in/outs of sex. The first blowjob, when Nico silently tries to fuck Dani, Dani’s seduction of an older man and the date rape scene perpetrated by Dani on his drugged female date – each encounter is left unanalyzed yet tells a vital piece of the story.

“We never talk about what we do,” Dani complains to his friend around the pool one sunny afternoon. No more is said.

As the film unravels, Dani frees himself of his obsession with his geeky friend and claims his sexuality. Though the film includes a lot of pain and discomfort, Nico And Dani contains much more liberated fun than Ferris could ever pile into his day off.

Nico And Dani, in Spanish with English subtitles, opens at the Carlton (20 Carlton St) on Fri, Jun 29; call (416) 598-2309.

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