After the previous success of The Salesman and A Separation, one would have almost expected director Asghar Farhadi to make his next film in the English language. Instead Farhadi surprised us all by announcing that his next film would be in Spanish. The film’s trailer starts off with a charming family drama atmosphere, bright and sunny with the characters laughing, smiling and joking with one and another.
We discover that Laura (Penélope Cruz) has returned to her hometown in Spain with her family (including her teenage daughter) to attend her younger sister’s wedding. It is a time for family, fun and reunions. The biggest reunion is that of Laura and Paco (Javier Bardem) who we discover used to date via exposition between Laura’s daughter and an unnamed teenage boy when they visit a clock tower.
We see shots of the wedding ceremony and the reception, there’s lots of laughing and dancing. Everything seems pleasant and innocent. Then we see a high angle shot, looking down at the wedding guests dancing, it starts to rain then all the lights go out and we are plunged into darkness. Something dramatic and devastating is going to occur…but what and to whom?
We cut to Cruz’s character banging on a door, trying to get in, a concerned look on her face. She calls for Paco who quickly comes to her assistance, managing to open the bathroom door. We see the two of them enter the dimly lit room, of course we don’t see what they have discovered inside but we see the aftermath with Cruz on the telephone begging for help, and then see her roaming the streets at nighttime searching for someone. We see a shot of Cruz in the morning, tearfully speaking into the film, informing the caller that “Something happened last night.”
We quickly learn that an event has taken place at the party, and it has had serious consequences. The shots of the clock tower and the clock’s clogs, create a sense of unease…perhaps indicating that we are all a part of a machine? The trailer shows that whatever has taken place is beginning to affect the family, with arguments and heated debates breaking out between them. And disturbingly, we are told that “It’s not a stranger who has done this.”
The cogs and the mechanics of the clock break, and we see birds fleeing the tower, a stunning shot which shows how the sense of order has collapsed. The final shot is a bird trapped in the clock tower, flying in front of a window but unable to escape. The trailer is expertly crafted, steadily building up the suspense and the drama until it bubbles over. This certainly has managed to grab my attention and has a way of drawing you in. This could be a hot contender for best foreign picture when it comes to awards season.