There are two ways and two ways only that the rom-com “It’s for Your Own Good (Es por tu Bien)” can turn out, given the set-up.
It’s about three brothers-in-law, concerned at what they see are poor choices their three daughters are making in who they fall in love with. They resolve to bust these trainwreck relationships up before lives are ruined.
Will they succeed in finding ingenious ways to bust up inappropriate–possibly self-destructive — couplings, and win their daughters’ lasting affection and appreciation for “saving” them?
Or will they fail, see the error in their ways, realize the daughters — teen to 20somethings — have to make their own decisions and perhaps come to see their new loves in a new light?
You know which one’s the more politically-correct and “woke” route. It would take real guts to choose the first path, which seems too old-fashioned for any movie similarly plotted to use as a resolution.
But it’s to the filmmakers’ credit that they at least make the range of fatherly concerns interesting, reasonable and (somewhat) rational. And it’s to the stars’ credit that they make these guys’ angst just a little amusing.
Arturo (Jose Coronado of “The Man with a Thousand Faces”) is a wealthy attorney whose daughter Valentina (Silvia Alonso) leaves the Dad-approved attorney she was going to marry at the altar to take up with an old flame, the leftist/activist/idealist Alex (Miki Esparbé).
“If we don;’t do something,” he fumes in between drinks and binge-eating…everything, “in two days our daughter’s going to be playing the flute in front of the mall!”
Jesus or “Chus” (Javier Cámara of “Living is Easy with Eyes Closed”) dotes on daughter Marta (Georgina Amorós), a star student and promising cellist who has picked this conservatory-admissions interview moment to take up with a pot-smoking, scooter-driving dead-end punk (Miguel Bernardeau), a “NEET” (No employment, education or training) in Spanish parlance.
“You’re going to wind up in a Turkish prison knife-fighting over a scrap of bread!” he pleads, in Spanish with English subtitles.
Hot-tempered construction foreman Hipolito or “Pilo” (Roberto Álamo of “The Skin I Live In”) isn’t close enough to his baker/barrista daughter (Andrea Ros) to know that she’s taken up with a famous painter (Luis Mottola), one who happens to have been a school classmate of Pilo’s. He’s twice her age, in other words. They connected after she posed nude for him, it’s suggested. He finds this out at her coffeeshop, standing in line next to the old classmate who brags about the “younger bon bon” he’s dating.
“You PERVERT! She’s my DAUGHTER!”
The three sisters these brothers-in-law are married to seem resigned to this situation, or at least fine with it. But they’re the ones who joke about “breaking them up.” The guys are the ones who run with the idea.
The script having pre-ordained where this will end weighs on the generally uninventive ways the guys come up with to engineer the break-up. Pilo keeps punching people, Arturo keeps gorging — eating anything in sight — and trying to buy his way out of “his” dilemma, and Chus seems hapless in the face of a boy who is tougher than him, who travels with a Rottweiler who has a sweet tooth.
The starting-point of the “inappropriate” mates makes you root for the fathers to run off uncompromising control-freak idealist Alex, bad-news-and-headed-for-jail Dani or #MeToo creeper/artist Ernesto. The gutsy play for the screenwriters would have been to make at least one dad “right” in all this.
The players make what they can of this material, and the pace picks up enough in the third act to give us a little something for our trouble. On the whole, though, “It’s for Your Own Good” isn’t for anybody’s own good. When you limit yourself to just two possible outcomes, the lack of suspense kills the comic promise of the premise.
MPAA Rating: TV-MA, violence, drug content, sexual content
Credits: Directed by Carlos Therón, script by Manuel Burque, Josep Gatell. A Qexito release on Netflix
Running time: 1:33