Directed by Asghar Farhadi
Everybody Knows takes a kidnapping and turns it into a melodrama. That may sound facetious, but it’s an effective, tense family drama that plays out like something Shakespearean.
There’s a wedding in a small, idyllic Spanish town that brings together a large family and their orbit of friends. The two most important people here are Paco (Javeir Bardem) and Laura (Penélope Cruz). She is the sister of the bride, and he is her childhood friend and former romantic interest. Whereas she has come from a wealthy family, he comes from poverty, with the vineyard he now runs operating on a plot of land he bought from her at a discounted price when she badly needed financial assistance. It’s a small detail that we don’t learn about well into the story, when her father brings it up as a reason to antagonize Paco. From there things only further detonate.
It’s Laura’s daughter Irene (Carla Campra) who disappears in the middle of a power outage late on the night of the wedding. Because she is taken from within a crowded estate in which all the guests remain awake, drunk and celebrating, it quickly becomes evident that the kidnapper must be someone who walks amongst them.
It’s this underlying suspicion that soon swallows up most of the relationships within the film, with every important character finding themselves interrogated, even if just for a fleeting moment. Because we too, as the audience, are looking for the kidnapper, we find circumstantial evidence that suggests reasons any number of them could be involved.
So the kidnapping turns into a melodrama, albeit a heightened one, and it begins to tear down most of the substantial relationships in the movie. It’s this splitting apart that is the focus of the entire film, ignoring the actual question of who did the kidnapping. When that latter question is finally answered, it could feel like a bit of a letdown, but I suppose it’s a purposeful letdown. By then, though the girl is saved, the damage done will be irreparable.
Up Next: Paddleton (2019), Cast Away (2000), Greta (2018)