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Nico and Dani

Reviewed By Thom
Posted 02/05/01 09:07:26

"Funny and warm. A real eye opener."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

It is summer and Nico is once again visiting his friend Dani in Barcelona. Dani and Nico are best friends and are close enough to share masturbation techniques. The Spanish title of the film KRAMPAK refers to Nico and Dani's pet name for a little hand job, a little head that acts as their sexual outlet while Nico pursues a local girl and Dani realizes he's fixated on Nico.

Dani and Nico isn't just another teenage coming out tale. It's a tale of sexual discovery both hetero and homo. Dani realizes he is sexually attracted to men just that summer and their sex play that Nico participates in willingly means much more to Dani than it does to Nico. The sex scenes are filmed with boyish awkwardness that doesn't pander to the desire of the audience nor are they gratuitous but honest and charming in their simplicity. The entire film is woven together with lightness and humour. Dani becomes his sexual identity without any exploding fathers, devastated mothers or ostracized people, which seems to be the normal fare in coming out or gay coming of age tales.

The summer ocean backdrop added a nice cadence to the film. It is easy to watch, engaging and well-acted. The relative inexperience of Nico and Dani in bed and in life is shown through little details like Dani ordering a Bailey's Cognac at a bar or Nico hacking a melon to pieces in order to serve it. In once scene, Nico and Danny invite two local girls over for a dinner date. They all get dressed up and try to act "grown up". They even have a meaningless exchange about the weather as if they hadn't just been hanging out on the beach together all day, laughing and talking and carrying on the way you do during summer with the few people who end up occupying most of your time. These details add a nice texture to this retrospective teen summer romance. Its too bad that no teenagers were in the audience of this unrated film which was mostly knowing men who laughed along during scenes where, unknown to Dani, he exhibits the signs familiar to all gay men of his undeniable sexuality.

But this isn't a film for only gay men. There are, after all, many straight characters in the film and while Dani is becoming gay, Nico's goal is to have sex with a girl before he turns seventeen and one of the local girls eventually obliges him.

My only gripe about Nico and Dani is its tendency to amble on. Some moments were so slow that I thought about just leaving rather than wait for the story to move along again. And its hard to determine what exactly the story is. There is no concise conflict or structure, just a meangingful string of events. I wasn't put off by this though and I thought its ambling nature worked well to show the slow unfolding of Nico and Dani's sexuality.

Dani and Nico is complex without being too weighty. Entertaining, humorous and honest portrayal of very familiar territory. Teen sexuality isn't iconized or idealized the way it is in many teen romantic comedies. It is allowed to unfold much as it does in real life and instead of going to this film to get turned on, you go to remember.

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