Everybody knows the solution to the mystery except the characters. We know because after 90 minutes of simmering, superior-soap style drama, the writer-director cuts straight to the culprits. Bang, right there, director Asghar Farhadi disappoints a big cross-section of his audience. Everybody Knows takes pains to set up a serpentine family mystery where trust and truth slither around. Hooking it to a whodunnit is a nifty idea. But whisking away the who and the why without any big reveal is a let down that leaves only the bubbling behaviours of mainly boring people.
Laura (Penelope Cruz) returns to
Bardem and Cruz are by far the best thing about this movie. At over two hours long, it’s a tepid-enough affair enlivened with flashes of ambition – such as The Godfather-style opulence of the wedding sequence. And you can well believe that Laura and Paco have a history together that threatens to pull apart the fabric of everyone’s lives. The personal pay-off for Paco is certainly poignant and the most resonant thing in the film.
But the drawn-out family disputes are the stuff of television not cinema and the uneasy yoking of the familial problems and the cinematic potential of the big-screen doesn’t quite work. Farhadi does a good job in conveying the inter-connectedness of lives in a landscape – the family who own it, the workers who depend on it. And sets up the nervy consequence of paying a ransom for a life when other livelihoods are at stake if you do.
A missed opportunity, Everybody Knows is a bit of a swiz: appearing to be two things but in the end failing to deliver on the most promising element, and ending up as a resolutely one-dimensional film-cum-TV drama.