Everybody Knows (Todos lo Saben)
Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Ricardo Darin
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…doesn’t let us make easy judgements even when we think some of the behaviour is tragic and terrible. The film is both hopeful and dark, which is just like human nature – inherently contradictory.
Iranian writer Director Asghar Farhadi came to the attention of many western audiences when his 2011 film A Separation came out. That complex, nuanced story of a custody battle was so outstanding that it made Farhadi essential viewing for lovers of cinema ever after. Now he has made a film in Spain (with finance from several European countries), and it is equally riveting. He has also secured the services of a heavy-hitting cast in Javier Bardem Penelope Cruz and the wonderful Argentinian actor Ricardo Darin.
It is hard to sketch in the plot of the film without giving too much away, but suffice to say, there are several twists and hidden secrets revealed that are cleverly interspersed so as to give the film a tense thriller-cum-crime story feel. It is the journey that the characters go on that stays with us though.
It concerns Laura (Cruz) who now lives in South America but has travelled to a small town outside Madrid for the wedding of her young sister. Laura’s husband Alejandro (Darin) has had to stay at home, ostensibly for work reasons. On the trip is Laura’s feisty young daughter Irene (Carla Campra) who wastes no time in flirting with the local boys and generally testing the boundaries in a teenage way. Pretty soon Laura reconnects with Paco (Bardem) – a local man about town and vineyard owner – who, as everybody in the town knows, was Laura’s great love.
The film starts so brightly, and with a beguiling sense of the teeming love-of-life that Spanish culture can embody. However, tensions and rivalries float beneath the surface. Farhadi wants us to love these characters and we soon do. However, he also shows us how flawed even nice people can be and, without judgement, he shows us the terrible consequences when they let themselves become ruthless and manipulate others for their own ends.
As with the masterful A Separation, Farhadi doesn’t let us make easy judgements even when we think some of the behaviour is tragic and terrible. The film is both hopeful and dark, which is just like human nature – inherently contradictory.