Everybody Knows: Film Review

Everybody Knows, a Spanish-language film made by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, opened the 2018 Cannes Film Festival so I figured it was worth checking out. I liked it but dear me it was long.

Penelope Cruz stars as Laura, who returns home to Spain from Buenos Aires for her sister’s wedding in their small village outside of Madrid. The festivities are soon interrupted by the disappearance of her daughter Irene (Carla Campra) who has been kidnapped. Laura and her former boyfriend Paco (Cruz’s real-life husband Javier Bardem) desperately try to find Irene and get the ransom money together without alerting the police.

The start of Everybody Knows is fantastic. It was so fascinating watching so many different family members showing up for the wedding and figuring out their history and relationships. The wedding itself was also shot wonderfully and it was so lovely to watch, so the revelation that Irene is missing was a shock. The kidnapping itself was a strong, promising start and I was gripped so it’s such a shame that it didn’t continue that way.

Secrets are revealed during the search for Irene, which is, again, another excellent idea, but I guessed a big revelation immediately – way before it came out – although I must admit I didn’t guess who was involved in the kidnapping. But these didn’t quite have the shocking edge they should have done because by that point I’d stopped caring – the film was becomes way too slow and is unnecessarily long (2 hours 13 min).

Cruz has some real emotionally taxing work to do as the despairing mother at her wits’ end. Her performance was very convincing although at times I thought she was a bit OTT. Bardem is more subtle – Paco is stressed and exhausted but he keeps pushing on, willing to lose his livelihood for Irene. There was a huge ensemble cast too, including Barbara Lennie as Paco’s wife Bea and Ricardo Darin as Laura’s husband Alejandro.

I felt really confident about Everybody Knows because the premise was so, so good but it falls down midway through. There were many strong ideas that would have been better served with a film that wasn’t so long and drawn out that it saps the intensity, energy and momentum out of the piece.

In selected cinemas Friday 8th March 

(Rating: 3/5)

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