Following the success of his 2016 film, The Salesman, Iranian director Asghar Farahdi returned to the festival circuit last year with Everybody Knows, a film set in a small village outside Madrid, starring Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Argentinian actor Ricardo Darin. The film opens with a joyous Laura (Cruz) returning to her hometown for her sister’s wedding, accompanied by her children Diego and Irene. She is reunited with the charming Paco (Bardem), her ex-lover who purchased land from her years earlier and has transformed it into a successful vineyard. As the wedding festivities are in full swing, the electricity is unexpectedly cut. Once it returns, Laura discovers that Irene has been taken from her bed. The kidnapping in Everybody Knows acts as a catalyst from which familial tensions bubble to the surface and some very big secrets are brought to the fore. It’s a solid drama with wonderful chemistry between Cruz and Bardem and excellent performances from an array of supporting actors. Because the film focuses on the relationship between Laura and Paco, the kidnap narrative morphs into something rather underwhelming and underdeveloped by the end, preventing a good film from being a great one. While this element isn’t stitched together particularly well, the character arc of Paco is stirringly heart-breaking and demonstrates the lengths one will go to when put under pressure in a crisis. While lacking a little pizazz here and there, Everybody Knows is nonetheless an engaging human drama with some unexpected twists and turns throughout.
3/10: Apparently they don’t