I agree. I've just finished watching the film. I thought it was fantastic and put together extremely well. The cast were fantastic and I can place it in my list of most powerful films I've seen.
Pablo didn't die. The ball on the track was, as said by someone else, his way of breaking free. The 'tracks' have been his place of childhood with his friends, the ball was something he felt he needed for luck, and protection. He felt he could rely on his ball-bearing to keep him safe. When he see's and understands the warmth and caring of a family, the scene in the mountain is his first glimpse of this (notice he sits alone, when everyone else is in pairs, overlooking the mountains... his desert), he realises he doesn't need it anymore. The symbol of placing it on the tracks I thought was excellent.
There was one particular scene I thought I could foresee....
... although if you are reading this thread you've probably already seen the film. When Alfredo and Pablo are at the studio and Alfredo's father gives him the tattoo, I thought he was going to photograph the work he had done on his son. I really thought he was going to use this as a time he could photograph Pablo, have proof of the bruises and scars on his body. I think this would have been a great scene to be in the film, re-enforcing the fact that Alfredo's father KNEW about the abuse and was doing something about it.
Well done to everyone involved in the making of this film.
I agree with all regarding the symbolism of the ball being crushed by the train, precisely the “talisman” that had helped Pablo and which he no longer needs, but also the place where he had to "prove" he was one of the boys, even if he didn't like the game.
Also, I agree with the second part of Inconsolable Monkey's message because I also thought that José had done this to Alfredo so that he could then ask Pablo to take off his shirt and take pictures of his bruises and scars.
Good film, but not great...