Todos lo saben / Everybody Knows
Asghar Farhadi – Spain
IN A NUTSHELL
This is the latest film from Iranian director Farhadi who has had past success with A Separation and The Salesman. Rather than make a follow up in his native language, Farhadi has opted to make a film in Spanish. Laura (Penelope Cruz) is a Spanish woman living in Buenos Aires, who returns to her hometown outside Madrid with her Argentinian husband and children, for her sister’s wedding. Everyone is happy to see Laura return, including a family friend Paco (Javier Bardem), who is a successful local vintner married to Bea (Barbara Lennie). However, Laura’s trip is upset by unexpected events that bring buried secrets into the open. (by Bianca Garner)
“Farhadi’s forte is evoking contemporary moral dilemmas that play out in melodramatic relationships complicated by the questionable bond of trust among husbands, wives, and lovers. So it is ultimately in “Everybody Knows,” but in a story that lacks the ominous clarity of the Gordian knot that tightens irrevocably around the two married couples at the center of “A Separation.” Farhadi seems uncomfortable with his foray into farcical and comic elements. The film conveys a sense of split personality when it shifts gears into the exposition of a serious crisis, perhaps best indicated by the sudden transformation of previously exuberant Paco into the most stable and sober of characters.” – – – – – Barbara Scharres, RogerEbert.com
“Selected to open what many are preemptively (and therefore prematurely) declaring an off year for the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, Farhadi’s weakest film yet is still better than the vast majority of commercially made dramas in Spain, France or the United States. Like the best of his work, “Everybody Knows” takes a simple scenario — one that reunites smoldering “Jamón, Jamón” co-stars Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem as ex-lovers with unresolved history — and uses it to peel the onion of its characters’ private lives, uncovering all manner of secrets. Unfortunately, none of those revelations is especially surprising, though Farhadi makes them quite satisfying to discover all the same.” – – – – – Peter Debruge, Variety
“This is a movie about a devastating external blow to a family, delivered with almost supernatural accuracy, a blow which exposes all sorts of cracks and weaknesses and fault lines, and does so with such pitiless efficiency that it is almost as if these secrets and lies are a kind of sin which has called forth an inevitable punishment. It is an idea to which Farhadi has been drawn before: the unburied secret, the unhealed wound, the imminent return of the repressed.” – – – – – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Given the current political trend of holding filmmakers in their own countries, Farhadi’s foray into Spanish language cinema arrives at a relevant time. Themes of border control, nations uniting, learning about other cultures, all ring very familiar to the Iranian writer-director – remember Farhadi was not even able to attend last year’s Academy Awards for which he won Best Foreign Language Film. Standing strong on such issues goes a long way.
Like The Salesman, Everybody Knows is receiving decent reviews, but not be masterful. Unable to live up to the unfathomed heights of, say, About Elly and A Separation. Not necessarily an overall downside, especially as under those circumstances, and very strong competition, The Salesman came award with two prizes, including Best Screenplay for Farhdi. If that plays out this year, Farhadi may very well be rewarded for his cultural adaptation, the copious research on the Spanish way-of-life, maintaining his compelling, human tone, with the Best Director prize. He’s probably sitting this one out though.