the original title of this film is Krámpack, Spanish slang for mutual masturbation. Two 17-year-old friends -- Nico (newcomer Jordi Vilches) and Dani (Fernando Ramallo) -- spend the summer at Dani's parents' Mediterranean beach house. They've been friends since grade school, but Dani's turned into a studious and artistic kid -- he's working on a novel -- while the gangly Nico dreams of becoming a motorcycle mechanic. They hang out by the pool, talk about girls and, before falling asleep at night, jerk each other off. There's no embarrassment or weirdness about it -- that is, until Dani wants Nico to go further than krámpack. But Nico's more interested in losing his virginity to Elena (Marieta Orozco).
Nico And Dani treats adolescent male sexuality in refreshing ways. Teenage boys are constantly horny and looking for relief any way they can get it, and if it has to be with each other, so be it. Only when Nico suspects that Dani's interest in him comes from queer longing does he pull away, but he never completely rejects his friend.
Like so many adolescents, these two have trouble articulating their thoughts and desires, and the script does an excellent job of both allowing them their silent moments of confusion and giving them naturalistic, to-the-point dialogue when they reach emotional breaking points.
Fernando Ramallo, who plays Dani, is one of Spain's emerging young stars, a Ryan Phillippe look-alike with a quick intellect. His Dani has an arrogant confidence that suits a young, smart and privileged teen who's unafraid of his gayness. Jordi Vilches is Nico, and he's a find, a former circus performer with a big nose, weak chin and a ton of big-screen appeal. He's not a great actor, but that's fine, since the film doesn't hinge on his pulling off any huge dramatic scenes.
One scene made me squirm and continues to bother me on reflection. Out of curiosity and pressure to see what it's like to have sex with a girl, Dani drugs Elena's friend and rapes her while she's semi-conscious -- the girl never realizes what happened to her. Nothing is made of this act; it's just a plot point. If the filmmakers felt they needed to use the rape to further the story, that's fine, but they obviously fail to grasp its significance for their characters or the audience.
nico and dani directed by Cesc Gay, written by Gay and Tomás Aragay, produced by Marta Esteban and Gerardo Herrero, with Fernando Ramallo, Jordi Vilches, Marieta Orozco and Esther Nubiola. 90 minutes. A Mongrel Media release. Opens Friday (June 29). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 96. Rating: NNN