Maria and Spiderman

Gently told and none the worse for it, this 2013 Argentinean drama traces the growing friendship between two poor Buenos Aires teens who work the city subways for spare change: a homeless juggler clad in a ratty Spiderman outfit (Diego Vegezzi) and a 13-year-old girl (the sweetly affecting Florencia Salas) selling tour books after school. Maria, the latter character, lives in a shantytown with her grandmother and the grandmother’s boyfriend, who abuses the girl sexually; a teacher who recognizes Maria’s gifts urges her to pursue a scholarship to a private school, but neither this nor Maria’s growing puppy love with the juggler seem likely to alleviate her secret shame. María Victoria Menis directed a script she cowrote with Alejandro Fernández Murray, and it’s a model of understatement and empathy. In Spanish with subtitles.