EVERYBODY KNOWS (2018) – CINEMA REVIEW
Directed by: Asghar Farhadi
Produced by: Alexandre Mallet-Guy, Alvaro Longoria
Written by: Asghar Farhadi
Starring: Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Ricardo Darin, Barbara Lennie etc.
Cinematography: Jose Luis Alcaine
**MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**
Asghar Farhadi is one of those filmmakers whose work is always of the highest quality. For some reason I actually missed seeing his prior film The Salesman (2016), so definitely need to catch up with that. However, The Past (2013) and A Separation (2011) were both compelling human dramas. A Separation, in fact, was one of the best films I have seen in the last decade. It took everyday scenarios involving as divorce and class conflict and spun a heartfelt, intense and intelligent narrative which was emotionally very powerful. While Farhadi was born in Iran and his early works are based there, his oeuvre transcends geography; projecting visions of humanity which stay with you way after the film has ended.
Farhadi’s eighth feature as a director is arguably his most accessible and while not reaching the dramatic heights of his previous films, remains a very solid personal drama. Everybody Knows concerns a large family unit converging for a wedding celebration in Spain. The setting is a small town set amidst beautiful countryside just outside Madrid. It’s the kind of place where everybody knows each others’ business and the community, while seemingly convivial on the outside, carries class, family and business conflicts under the surface.
The film begins with Laura driving her children, notably teenage Irene, back to the town where she was born. The wedding celebrations ensue until terror strikes and Irene is stolen in the night by unknown assailants. Forbidden from contacting the police by the kidnappers, Laura, her family and former childhood boyfriend, Paco (Javier Bardem), desperately seek to find Irene before tragedy occurs. It isn’t long before history converges on the drama and past events involving stolen land and romantic affairs threaten to destabilise the whole town.
With Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem cast as your leading protagonists, and the brilliant Ricardo Darin in support, you’re always guaranteed an enthralling screen experience. Nonetheless, what is so impressive in the performances and direction is they feel like real people with proper emotions, not simply starry versions of themselves emulating reality. Moreover, Farhadi concentrates on the human aspects of the story rather than the crime, as the characters, relationships and town itself begin to unravel. Further, while the film may lack his usual socio-political subtext, Farhadi really pulls you into the drama, as secrets and revelations are unearthed throughout. Overall, this is a consistently watchable piece of cinema that keeps up Farhadi’s impressive hit-rate, while perhaps feeling more familiar and generic compared to the other films of his I have seen.
4 thoughts on “EVERYBODY KNOWS (2018) – CINEMA REVIEW”
Nice review! I also enjoyed the movie (I saw it in the cinema and wrote about it in my blog some months ago), and I agree with you: it’s solid and acting is excellent. And, let me add, it’s impressive how a foreign director managed to capture the essence of rural Spain so well!
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Fantastic- thanks for reading. I think it’s a fine universal story that could have worked anywhere. But Spain was a great location especially due to family and political themes presented in the film.
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Great review! I wish I loved this movie more and I wish someone will persuade me to love it more. I hate to spread negativity, but I thought this movie was such a bore, I cannot imagine sitting through it again – I will give anything not to. The family drama was on the level of day-time TV material, and, frankly, what frustrated me is that the movie was sold as mystery or part crime mystery. I mean, kidnapping was almost needless to tell the story, it could have been some other matter involving the daughter (I saw that “twist” coming from miles away too). And, when we find out about the culprit behind the kidnapping – do we care? Not in the slightest. How can it be good plotting? A twelve-year old will write better material and will not make it so needlessly long. Yes, I may be very harsh and maybe I do no understand good cinema, but really…And, also minus Farhadi and the three lead stars, and what we got then, as well?
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Hey, I kind of know what you mean as this isn’t the filmmaker’s best work. But I felt there was enough in the family and class conflict to make it compelling enough. I’m not sure the “twist” and kidnapping were handled as well as they could of for maximum drama but the characters and performances were interesting enough. We can’t enjoy everything I guess. I respect that everyone has different opinions on films. Thanks for reading and commenting.😁