Spanish Film Festival Review: Instructions Not Included

Spanish Film Festival Review: Instructions Not Included

As the highest grossing, Spanish-language film of all time in the US, this standard, screw-ball comedy of “irresponsible lothario suddenly left to raise child” rises above the template to be a quirkily satisfying piece of cinema.

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sff2015-instructionsnotincludedPart of the “Reel Latino” section of the Spanish Film Festival, Instructions Not Included is the highest grossing, Spanish-language film of all time in the U.S. And it’s not hard to see why.

Plot-wise, this is the standard, screw-ball comedy of “irresponsible lothario suddenly left to raise child”. Yet it manages to rise above the template to be a quirkily satisfying piece of cinema.

Eugenio Derbez stars as Valentin, the eponymous lothario, and does an excellent job of making him a believable and sympathetic character. He also directed and co-wrote, along with Guillermo Rios and Leticia Lopez Margalli.

The stand-out performance is from Loreta Peralta as his seven-year-old daughter, Maggie. She manages to steal the film, without seeming precocious or too cute. The chemistry between her and Derbez is a joy to watch, and is at the heart of this movie.

Although, basically, a sentimental comedy, the writers have given this film rich, thematic layers: it explores concepts of fantasy, family, love and parenting. Special mention must go to Jorge de Jesus Perez Alba for the wonderful animation sections, which give depth to Valentin’s fantasy stories to Maggie.

This is faultless film-making, managing to produce an incredibly popular work, which still satisfies. Although two hours long, it moves along at a rollicking pace and constantly surprises.  There are lots of laughs along the way, but be warned: you will need tissues…

…lots of them.

Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Twitter: @TraceyKorsten

Rating out of 10: 7

Instructions Not Included screens on 11 May 2015 as part of the 18th annual Spanish Film Festival, exclusively at the Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas.

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