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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Drama > Teens > Spain > Barrio (1999/Lionsgate DVD)

Barrio (1999/Lionsgate DVD)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Film: B-



Fernando Leon de Aranoa is turning out to be one of the most significant Spanish directors of his generation, though only so many of his films have made it to the U.S. on the big screen or on DVD, but the few that have are impressive.  A little while ago, we saw Princesas from 2006 and liked it:





Now we go back to his 1998 film Barrio and discover that it is just as good, maybe a bit better and an early triumph that received all the acclaim it deserved.  This fine comedy/drama about three young male friends in a Madrid working-class neighborhood in summertime is very real, sometimes funny, entertaining, insightful, sometimes ironic and very well acted by the cast and the three principles (Crispulo Cabezas, Timy Benito, Eloi Yebra of Nico & Dani, reviewed elsewhere on this site) make you instantly believe these are guys who grew up together.


Credit should definitely go to de Aranoa’s screenplay, which is very well thought out, bold and shows the dark side of Madrid, as well as not dwelling on just the bright or dark side.  Anything can happen and sometimes does here, allowing us to get to know the characters, their antics, seeing their dreams, their possibilities and seeing how they can and cannot be met under the circumstances.  That all makes this missed gem a must-see for serious film fans.


The 1.33 X 1 image is a little disappointing, makes you wonder if this is a tunnel-vision print, has detail issues and deserves a better presentation for how nicely this is shot by Director of Photography Alfredo F. Mayo.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has some Pro Logic surrounds, but the actual recording is pretty good for a film of its age and low budget.  There are sadly no extras, but this is a film that deserves them and by Blu-ray should.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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