Review: Everybody Knows
by Fabien Lemercier
- CANNES 2018: Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s new film is a highly-skilled Spanish thriller and a disturbingly precise exercise in dredging up past secrets
All of the best filmmakers are able to communicate in one particular language, that of the seventh art (cinema), which opens up doors to space and time, transcends borders and touches the hearts of viewers through the universality of emotion. Such is the case for the Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, who has established himself with stories set in his native country (A propos d’Elly…, Une séparation, The Salesman [+see also:
film profile]), but who is also capable of demonstrating his narrative talents in other parts of the world, including those in which he doesn’t speak or understand a single word, such as in France, with The Past [+see also:
film profile] (2013). Farhadi’s latest film, Everybody Knows [+see also:
film profile], is set in Spain and is due to open and compete at the71st Cannes Film Festival. In this film, Asghar Farhadi skill lies in his ability to immerse himself into a situation with incredible ease, while skilfully weaving a large number of primary and secondary characters into the heart of a rural family thriller plot, without falling into the trap of creating a picture-perfect setting.
As the film commences, we find ourselves in a village where everyone seems to know everyone, and where preparations are underway for Ana’s wedding (Inma Cuesta). Ana’s sister, Laura (Penélope Cruz), is back from Argentina for the occasion, single-handedly looking after her two children as her husband couldn’t make it. Parents, children, grandchildren, friends: numerous generations mingle in the family home, enjoying a fun-filled reunion. Among them, Paco (Javier Bardem) stands out. He runs a local vineyard with his partner, Bea (Bárbara Lennie), and we quickly learn that he once had a passionate affair with Laura many moons ago. As the joyful wedding evening gets into full swing, there’s a power cut. A storm is brewing, and Laura soon realises that her 16-year-old daughter, Irene (Carla Campra), has gone missing after going to bed. Having not long gathered together a search party, the family receives a text message: Irene has been kidnapped and will be killed if they alert the police. The kidnappers are demanding a ransom of €300,000. Anxiety reaches a peak and Alejandro (Ricardo Darín), Irene's father, flies over from South America. As it dawns on the family that the kidnapping must have required the complicity of one or more relatives, suspicion sets in, resentment bubbles to the surface and secrets are revealed...
An outstanding writer, Asghar Farhadi methodically spins a detailed web, demonstrating his genre-related intentions from the get-go, as well as conjuring up a threatening atmosphere, which hovers over the film even before the numerous protagonists are deftly introduced. It’s clear, however, that beyond the suspense, clues and various other revelations that encourage the viewer to ponder who the culprit might be, the filmmaker is particularly interested in the chain of events that is triggered by such a traumatic event, activating the springs of the past and revealing what lies beneath the mask of a family and a small community in which everyone seems to know an awful lot... The film includes some excellent performances the star trio – Cruz/Bardem/Darín – in particular) and is shot with a certain coolness, Everybody Knows is a brilliant exercise in style, and a film that will appeal to the general public, even if certain viewers might prefer the director's Iranian films, which arguably have more psychological depth to them.
Produced by Memento Films Production (France) and Morena Films (Spain), Everybody Knows was co-produced by France 3 Cinéma, Lucky Red (Italy), Rai Cinema (Italy) and Untitled Films AIE (Spain), and is sold by Memento Films International.
(Translated from French)
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