Starring: Blanca Suárez, Macarena García, Amaia Salamanca
Director: Gabriela Tagliavini
Running Time: 78 mins
Despite Everything (A pesar de todo) is a Spanish film about four sisters who reunite upon the news of their mother’s death. After the funeral, they learn a long-held secret about each of their backgrounds, leading them to work with one another to piece their personal histories together.
While it certainly doesn’t earn any prizes for originality, Despite Everything manages to succeed in creating an enjoyable story about family where so many others go wrong. Therefore, despite its predictable and rather simplistic plot, this film has got a good bit of heart and humour to it, as well as four great lead performances, all of which go a long way to making a fairly basic movie an undeniably enjoyable and endearing watch.
Let’s start with the story, though, because it’s the one thing that really impedes this movie from being a whole lot better. You’ve seen the premise before, now grown-up children traipsing through the history of their parents in order to learn more about their origins, all the while discovering the importance of family and the people around them that they have taken for granted for so long.
Now, the one thing that the movie has got going for it in the story department is the short running time, which at just 78 minutes, means that the plot still feels fairly snappy, and despite its rather generic and predictable nature, it doesn’t leave you sitting in boredom long with slow development, which adds to the fun factor of the whole affair.
Of course, the story really loses a lot of its emotional impact given the fact that you can see pretty much every twist and turn coming a mile off, but it also manages to rectify that with a good degree of heart throughout.
Most movies – and I’m really pointing the finger at Hollywood here – that focus on family get-togethers are so overly obsessed with the tensions and bickering between siblings, parents, relatives and the rest. While some movies (Meet The Parents) bring great humour to that, others (Four Christmases) really make what should be a heartfelt story feel really unpleasant, and with such aggressive arguing and mean-spirited drama, always take away from the potential enjoyability of the story.
This film, on the other hand, doesn’t play too heavily on the tensions and arguments between the four sisters, and although there are moments where it can feel a little too snipey, the majority of the story focuses well on the healing of their relationship, which makes for a far more pleasant watch.
That, of course, wouldn’t be possible if the four sisters didn’t have convincing and likable chemistry, but that’s fortunately the case thanks to the quartet of excellent lead performances. All four characters have great individuality and charisma, with particularly outstanding turns from Macarena García and Amaia Salamanca, but it’s how well they complement each other throughout that really makes their relationship so engaging.
Poorer performances would see individual actors pushing for the limelight in the middle of the quartet, only furthering any ill feelings between characters in the story, but all four actresses here play the team game brilliantly, and as such endear you both to their individual characters, as well as further play into the development of that sibling relationship, which is certainly the movie’s most enjoyable and even heartwarming element.
Overall, I have to say that I had a good time with Despite Everything. It’s far from the world’s most original or intriguing drama, but with surprising heart, likability and a quartet of excellent performances, the film proves thoroughly endearing nonetheless, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.5.