A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Despite Everything (A Pesar de Todo) is a Spanish-language comedy about four sisters who learn on their mother's death that the man who raised them isn't their father. To earn their inheritance, they are forced together to discover the men who fathered them. The film's subject is the mother's serial adultery, dealt with in a comic way, and it includes unusual revelations about their mother's taste in sexual partners, sympathy for the man who raised the girls, and an ending that presumably leads all the women to better understandings of themselves and each other. A transgender character plays an important role. A character struggles with alcohol problems. Adult drinking and marijuana are on display. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "damn," and "p---y." The painting of a nude penis is used to comic effect. In an artist's studio, the painting of a woman's vagina is seen.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Four far-flung grown daughters gather when their dynamic 70-year-old mother, Carmen (Marisa Paredes), dies in Madrid in DESPITE EVERYTHING. Their dad, Pedro (Juan Diego), is in and out of reality, possibly suffering dementia. The women quickly learn that in order to get their inheritance, they'll have to follow clues to the identities of their biological fathers: men their mother had sex with after learning their "dad" was sterile. Each is working through private issues. Sara (Blanca Suarez) hasn't gotten over loving Alejandro (Maxi Iglesias), and buries her sorrow in work. Lucia (Macarena Garcia) has always felt her mother didn't love her. Claudia (Belen Cuesta) drinks too much, hiding the fact that her husband has left her. Sofia (Amaia Salamanca) is a rebellious artistic soul who can't commit to any of her lesbian lovers. Together the daughters meet their fathers, most of them seemingly unlikely, and learn that each man had had an ongoing relationship with Carmen, in some cases lasting decades. This offers lots of opportunity for the sisters to discuss sex, admire a painting of a man's penis, and criticize each other for their flaws and character defects.
Is it any good?
The movie is a fun what-if that leaves many logic holes through which trucks of skepticism can be driven. At first, Despite Everything follows a Wizard of Oz kind of Yellow Brick Road, with the sisters on their forced quest to find fathers and meeting interesting people and learning about themselves along the way. Although the journey is at times amusing to watch, what's troubling is that the movie never addresses the fact that in response to Pedro's sterility, Carmen didn't just have sex with other men to get pregnant, she also pursued long relationships outside her marriage. The pain this must have caused her husband, especially when she describes one of the biological fathers as the love of her life, had to have been enormous. Instead of hearing about Carmen's clear insensitivity, we hear only the adulation of her former lovers. The unkindness she did to her long-suffering husband certainly seems worth exploring by the daughters who love the man who raised them.
In some ways, this movie seems a prisoner of political correctness and tone deaf to reality. All of Carmen's behavior is depicted approvingly in an atmosphere of extreme privilege and wealth. The well-to-do children are mostly blasé about the mother's adultery, as if viewing Mom as a brave soul who courageously enjoyed sex demonstrates their enlightenment. This raises an issue parents may want to talk about with teens: If a less wealthy wife had done the same, she would at least be judged irresponsible for having unprotected sex with so many partners in an era of rampant STDs.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it would be like to learn the father who raised you isn't your biological father. Do you think Despite Everything dealt with the daughters' feelings realistically?
What's your opinion of the mom, who sought out not only sperm donors to father her children but also long-term relationships? Do you think the mother was fair to her husband?
How would you feel if you were the dad and this information was being made public? Does the movie address this issue?
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