Everybody Knows

October, 2018, Drama

 

 

Iranian writer/director Ashgar Farhadi, responsible for
such  internationally acclaimed
films as A Separation, About Elly and El Pasado turns his attention to the
crime drama in this intense study of abduction, loyalty and intra-family
jealously during a family weekend wedding. International stars Penelope Cruz,
Javier Bardem and Ricardo Darin head a pitch-perfect cast in a storyline which darkens
as it leisurely examines  the
inter-actions  of a large family in
the farming community of Torrelaguana, near Madrid.

 

Laura (Cruz) plays a middle-aged woman who travels from
Argentina with her teenage daughter Irene and young son to Spain in order to
attend the wedding of Laura’s sister. Her husband Alejandro (Darin) can’t attend
because of his business, which allows the rekindling of a seemingly platonic
reunion between Paco (Bardem), a successful winemaker and his former girlfriend
who married someone else and moved far from home.  

 

But tensions lurk behind this joyous celebration; Paco’s
success has come through the advantageous purchase, years ago, of a vineyard
from Laura’s father.  Several
relatives in the  family agree with
her father’s contention that Paco cheated him out of a prized family possession,
condemning them to  a life in
marginal circumstances .

 

These lingering tensions are momentarily set aside, but at
the height of an all-night celebration, Irene vanishes without explanation. By
the following morning, it’s apparent that she’s been kidnapped.  Paco and Laura conduct a frantic search
before a note arrives, demanding a substantial ransom.

 

Laura’s husband Alejandro (Darin) arrives from Buenos Aires
as the deadline for Irene’s release or death draws close only to confess that
his supposed financial success is a sham. Since Laura’s family has no hope of
meeting the kidnapper’s demands, Laura and Alejandro implore Paco to sell his
vineyard. Despite the angry protests of his wife, Paco grows increasingly
sympathetic to these pleas amid hints that his motivations are more complicated
than simple benevolence…</p>

 

Farhadi’s skill in conveying a sense of exceptional warmth
and cohesion in family life continues a theme developed in his earlier films.
It’s superbly enhanced here by cinematographer José Alcante’s ability to visually
amplify this intimacy by the manner in which his cameras explore the lavish
wedding dinner brought to an abrupt halt by Irene’s mysterious disappearance.
Using a masterful combination of close-ups, tracking shots and overhead images,
the 80-year old Alcante (whose oeuvre covers over 150 credits) conveys a vitality in these characters rarely  seen in contemporary movies.

 

Bardem’s performance as a man burdened with hopelessly
conflicted impulses enhances his already astounding roles as a presciently-doomed criminal in Butiful and a sociopathic killer in No Country for Old Men. Cruz and Darin compliment Bardem’s portrait
of internal conflict by deftly leading the remainder of the cast in fleshing
out the selfishly Hobbesian choice Bardem is ultimately forced to make.

 

The director brings his plot to a conclusion that leaves a
number of tantalizing threads to consider; like any superb storyteller, Farhadi
allows these to be woven together however his audience wishes to do so. With
its leisurely pace, careful character delineation and obsessive interest in the
divide between moral and legal obligation, Everybody
Knows
continues to enhance Farhadi’s global reputation as a master of movie
making.

 

The Verdict? One of the best of films of the year.

 

 

 

 

Farhadi’s skill in conveying a sense of exceptional warmth
and cohesion in family life continues a theme developed in his earlier films.
It’s superbly enhanced here by cinematographer José Alcante’s ability to visually
amplify this intimacy by the manner in which his cameras explore the lavish
wedding dinner brought to an abrupt halt by Irene’s mysterious disappearance.
Using a masterful combination of close-ups, tracking shots and overhead images,
the 80-year old Alcante (whose oeuvre covers over 150 credits) conveys a vitality in these characters rarely  seen in contemporary movies.

 

Bardem’s performance as a man burdened with hopelessly
conflicted impulses enhances his already astounding roles as a presciently-doomed criminal in Butiful and a sociopathic killer in No Country for Old Men. Cruz and Darin compliment Bardem’s portrait
of internal conflict by deftly leading the remainder of the cast in fleshing
out the selfishly Hobbesian choice Bardem is ultimately forced to make.

 

The director brings his plot to a conclusion that leaves a
number of tantalizing threads to consider; like any superb storyteller, Farhadi
allows these to be woven together however his audience wishes to do so. With
its leisurely pace, careful character delineation and obsessive interest in the
divide between moral and legal obligation, Everybody
Knows
continues to enhance Farhadi’s global reputation as a master of movie
making.

 

The Verdict? One of the best of films of the year.

 

 

 

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