Updated: Mar 22, 2020
Everybody knows that joining highly awarded and recognized international movie talents should make an intriguing film. And with that title, "Everybody Knows" meets the challenge of providing an absorbing account that touches on universal issues. Director Asghar Farhadi, who won foreign film Oscars for A Separation and The Salesman, switches settings from his middle eastern homeland to a small village just outside Madrid. There, family dynamics work the way they do in many places, with distinct personalities and multiple needs facing issues from a past that initially seems buried.
With pressure building like bubbles in a shaken bottle of soda, these issues pop to the present, as screenwriter Farhadi reveals them in a steady stream. A kidnapping — an atypical dramatic event for most people — spurs events as the family deals with major conundrums. Should they call the police? Can they get the ransom money? And really, who's the dad? Not everybody knows the correct answers to those questions, even if they think they do. As revelations surface, finding the right solution proves more difficult in Farhadi's slowly paced script.
Bypassing stunt-laden responses to events, the director benefits from wise casting of performers whose reputation includes beauty, charisma, and acting talent. Everybody Knows re-teams Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, who have worked together on several projects including Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona, where Cruz earned her supporting actress Oscar. In "Everybody Knows," Cruz plays the daughter of privilege, exquisitely portraying a beautiful woman who adores her family and goes through hell when confronted with the loss of a child.
Using body language and movements as much as dialogue, Bardem acts the wild card, effusive, emotional, and caring. Supporting players include Ricardo Darin from the original "Secret in Their Eyes" movie; with minimal screen time, he and others in the family-mix clearly display the complexities of distinct personalities. Lacking an action-film orientation or neatly-wrapped ending, Farhadi and his actors play their story sensitively and believably, leaving much to ponder.
This review was originally aired on 3/15/2019.
You can listen to it online at kunr.org/post/everybody-knows