This compassionate, if sometimes sentimental, Spanish film introduces Ramón (Manuel Lozano), a tender 12-year-old whose father’s job means he and his family live a peripatetic lifestyle, moving from one Spanish town to another. Here, he arrives in Seville. It’s 1975: Franco is recently dead; the democratic movement is burgeoning; and political allegiances are played out in the classroom between rival teachers (you can spot the communist – he wears a beard). Ramón has trouble fitting in, but is quietly determined to stick to his three rules for maintaining a quiet life: ‘Don’t fight, don’t snitch, don’t cry’. Slowly, he makes friends, gains confidence and, briefly, gets a girl.
Cuadri pitches Ramón’s adult awakening against his country’s awakening as a modern, democratic nation free of fascism. It’s a sweet device, although perhaps one that plays more powerfully to nostalgic Spanish audiences. The politics, however, are light. This is essentially a warm story about the first stirrings of teenage life in a confused boy.