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Based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Spanish author Manuel Vincent, this drama chronicles the coming-of-age of a young man who grew up in Spain during the late '50s, the time when Franco's regime was dominating the country. The film opens in 1957 as Manuel returns from boarding school to his home village in Valencia.
While trying to readjust to village life and his old friends and family, Manuel joins the ranks among those who follows El Bola, a cigar-chomping, portly, boisterous fellow with an official demeanor that has everyone around him fooled into thinking him a man with high-ranking connections.
El Bola decides it is time for Manuel to lose his virginity and so tries to convince the youth to visit the town brothel, but Manuel is not interested. His heart has been captured by a pretty young girl to whom he has never spoken.
Back at home, his father disdains Manuel's dream of becoming a writer and makes him choose between the priesthood and becoming a lawyer. Manuel chooses the latter and so goes off to school in Valencia.
No sooner does he arrive than he sees the pretty girl and follows her to Malvarrosa Beach where he encounters a wedding party as they are being thrown out of a cafe by one of Franco's generals who wants the place for his own debauched revelry. In school, Manuel meets a professor with subversive ideas who provides him with a number of banned books.
So it goes for Manuel with each subsequent anecdote commenting slyly upon the effects of fascism on the Spanish people