by Greg Muskewitz
When it was over, after a brief and unhampered 90-minutes, I wasn't sure if "Nico and Dani" a/k/a "Krámpack" (apparently a slang term for masturbation, or the act of jerking one another off) was supposed to be taken seriously, or if it was some wild gag. And while the movie played out quite nattily, its disregard for an apex or construction of conflicts up until one, had an eventual heavy impact on any meaning suggested or propelled.Left alone with his parents' beach house for a few days, 16-year-old Dani (Fernando Ramallo) is expecting his best friend Nico (Jordi Vilches) to visit from Barcelona. The boys have a close relationship --closer than the parents expect, I'm sure, but they have no bearing on anything in the movie. Certainly aggressive, or easily categorized as horny, their first night they celebrate Nico's arrival with a krámpack, or in other words, separately masturbate, but while in the same room.
"Is this to be taken seriously, or as a cinematic [gay] joke?"
While Dani has things mapped-out, like going fishing and hunting, yet still having to meet with his study tutor, those plans are delineated when two local girls, Elena (Marieta Orozco) and Berta (Esther Nubiola) grab the boys' attention --at least somewhat. Nico and Dani continue krámpacking, now manually doing it for one another, which includes Dani's attempt to further things by giving Nico oral sex. They don't act like it's anything out of the norm --nothing two best friends wouldn't do-- but Nico accepts it out of hedonistic pleasure, while it's clear Dani has an attraction, though it really never is completely established whether he is gay, bi-sexual, or curious. However, Nico gazumps Dani's advances or substitutions for the real thing any time Elena is around, while Dani seems not interested in Berta at all.
The homoerotic twink fantasy does not go without its concupiscent and lickerous moments, but it is only a tease to those expecting or wanting more. Much of that was likely due to the restrictions placed on what they can-or-cannot do on-screen when involving minors, but it's not to say it didn't push, or at least wrinkle the envelope a little bit. The two kids are coolly confident, cute and appealing performers, particularly Ramallo, and their idiosyncrasies, their naďveté show a strong realisticness to all of it. Nubiola is also a strong find, and very much a delight to watch. These three newfound talents contain a good deal of natural talent. While they stay real and uninhabited, it's the story, especially around the last quarter where Nico and Dani's rift grows and Dani starts hanging out with a gay-friend of his father's, that the movie loses focus of where and what it's doing.
By the conclusion, as the two see each other off, as if nothing had happened and they weren't in the slightest effected by any of it, where have we really gotten. That surely wasn't a logical or sufficient conclusion. It just slides right over any obstacles or contingencies that should have been discussed and worked through. It becomes rather flippant and uninterested towards everything it had hitherto queried so seriously about. All this doesn't hit you immediately after the movie, because in its own odd, perverse way, "Nico and Dani" is sweet and likable, and while the characters have skipped off and pulled you along with them, only until you have become distanced from that do you start to realize the absences and holes of the story. The last quarter is detrimental to the whole movie, and brings down what started off a lot better because the direction and focus becomes inconsistent and distracted.
So was it nothing more than a gay-porn prank? Aside from the twink-y nature of the movie, and then its overall flippancy to the themes examined or over-viewed, the director's name is Cesc (how do you pronounce that?) Gay, and the writer is Tomás Aragay. That's Aragay. Is this coincidence? Add to that the original title, "Krámpack" and its masturbatorial denotation, and it becomes all the more dubious. I lean towards the idea or possibility that some or all of this was meant as gag, and if not, that has got to be one of the most coincidental occurrences I have ever seen.
http://www.landmark-theatres.comFinal Verdict: B-.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=4906&reviewer=172
originally posted: 05/05/01 06:12:48