An unlikely papa bear

By | 2003-05-02T09:00:00-04:00 May 2nd, 2003|Uncategorized|

Being gay doesn’t make for a bad parent. Neither does being an imperfect human being – specifically a sexually active and HIV positive member of the local bear community who has a thing for parties and gay bath houses. And drugs, occasionally.
Pedro (José Luis García-Pérez) never set out to be a parent. But when his flighty sister Violeta (Elvira Lindo) leaves her 9 year-old son Bernardo (David Castillo) with Pedro during a trip to India, Pedro welcomes the temporary break – and challenge – to his party hearty routine.
When Violeta gets indefinitely detained in India on drug charges, Bernardo’s temporary visit turns into a the possibility of a permanent stay in Pedro’s home – and life.
Just when Pedro starts to get comfortable with this fact – he even remodels his apartment to make a second bedroom for the boy – Bernardo’s estranged grandmother enters the picture, threatening Pedro’s newfound, and unexpected, domestic tranquility.
Needless to say, Pedro’s life is turned upside down, and although he isn’t always the most traditional – or best – role model, his fierce love for his nephew and his well-meaning fight to keep Bernardo in his life show that his aim is true.
Though the poster for “Bear Cub” leads one to expect a child raised by a pack of bears, that is not the case. Pedro’s friends play an important, but not a leading, role in the film. It is Pedro alone who raises and cares for Bernardo. His friends serve to illustrate just how changed he is by this experience. They complain that he never goes out anymore, but they understand and are ultimately portrayed as a supportive community.
García-Pérez’s performance is excellent as Pedro, but it is Castillo’s Bernardo that steals the show. His mix of wisdom and vulnerability makes for a believable and highly likable character.
What is most remarkable about “Bear Cub” is director Miguel Albaladejo’s hands-off style. In this way ‘Bear Cub’ largely avoids overt sentimentality (with the exception of an ending too focused on tying up loose ends). Albaladejo does not tell viewers what to think of his characters, which allows for more complexity in the relationships presented. When Bernardo’s grandmother threatens to remove him from Pedro’s custody – and resorts to unethical means – she is not painted as a villainous woman out for revenge, but a woman that has Bernardo’s best interests at heart, even if she is misguided. Likewise Albaladejo does not paint Pedro as perfect.
All of the characters are presented as real people living real lives with real flaws and these are the people, whether gay or straight, who actually raise real children in real life.

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