Film

Everybody Knows

Of secrets and lies

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The outer threat, the inner wound and the mystery in between. These are the determinant factors in Asghar Farhadi’s intimately painful and powerfully acted kidnap drama, crucially anchored by three heavyweight performances from Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, and Ricardo Darin.

It has been conceived by Farhadi on familiar lines, with ideas reminiscent of his own earlier work and, at one further remove, of influences from Michael Haneke and Michelangelo Antonioni. There is, maybe inevitably, a scene in which a video is desperately scrutinized for clues. Cleverly, some of this video is drone footage, from far overhead, like the point-of-view of a dispassionate, destructive angel.

This is a movie about a devastating external blow to a family, delivered with almost supernatural accuracy, a blow that 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 that 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.

The scene is a Spanish village to which Laura (Cruz) has returned for a big family wedding after a long time away. Her husband Alejandro (Darin) has stayed behind for work reasons in their new adopted home of Argentina—but she has the two children with her, including her teen daughter Irene (Carla Campra) who to her mother’s considerable disapproval appears to be attracted to a boy there who tells her a secret. Her mother, he says, was once deeply in love with local man Paco (Bardem) and broke his heart in leaving. It is no secret, he assures her, “Todos lo saben—everybody knows.” But what else does everybody know?

This question is to assume a horrible significance when Irene disappears in the middle of the wedding party—and in her bedroom someone has left behind newspaper clippings concerning a notorious kidnapping that took place in the area four years earlier. Soon mysterious and untraceable texts arrive demanding money, and threatening dire consequences if the police are contacted.

Who is behind it? Could it be Irene herself, faking an abduction after taking a rebellious fancy to the idea of running off with a lover? Paco himself is in fact resented by Laura’s elderly and cantankerous father for a dispute going back years: that Paco bought land belonging to him at an opportunistic cheap rate, taking advantage of his dire state brought on by boozing and gambling, and turned it into a lucrative vineyard. Could it be that Laura’s family has conspired to pressure and emotionally blackmail Paco for the ransom money as payback? Or is it that Alejandro himself is not as wealthy as everyone has enviously assumed?

But more than this, it is the suspicion itself that is creating the rancor and the resentment. The abduction has left behind a self-fulfilling prophecy of dismay. The crime has not brought this family together; it has brought to the surface the old grudges that were only manageable because Laura has chosen to live so far away from all these people.

Ultimately, the issue goes beyond money. Everybody Knows has a strong streak of melodrama that is masked by the sophistication and accomplishment of the performances and direction. And there are, just occasionally, plausibility issues. Why does nobody talk about the culprits of the original kidnapping from years before? Wouldn’t they be in the frame, at least provisionally?

What marks this film out is the sheer confidence of the ensemble playing, presented in a more forthright, less indirect way than the puzzles of Farhadi’s previous work. There’s something uncomplicatedly watchable and enjoyable about his big wedding scene, with a trace of Francis Ford Coppola or Michael Cimino in its scope. Irene and her admirer Felipe sneak off during the ceremony and get up into the church belfry and start ringing the bells, to the bemusement of the congregation below. Another director might have made that an obviously ominous flourish and Farhadi does belabor the concept of time and fate just a little. But that impromptu bell-ringing scene had such flair, such muscular confidence. And the performances themselves are so intelligent, mature and yet uninhibited. Farhadi’s storytelling has overpowering force.

BoS
More Film...
Apollo 11
Found footage of the moon shot

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the July 20, 1969, first manned moon landing, the documentary Apollo 11 brings back once more the awe of that event. What makes this film different from numerous other such movies is that, in many instances, it utilizes footage never before seen…

more »
The Academy Awards
Heavy metal Hollywood

Oscar is having a tough year.

It would seem the road to Hollywood’s heavy metal is paved with poor decisions and murky intentions on the part of the possibly still esteemed Academy. First, was that thing with the proposed and then rescinded Best Popular Picture category, which was…

more »
We Are The Warriors
19th Annual Bellingham Human Rights Festival

Warrior Women is the story of Madonna Thunder Hawk, a leader in the American Indian Movement (AIM) who cultivated a rag-tag gang of activist children—including her daughter Marcy—into a group called the “We Will Remember” survival group. Together, Madonna and Marcy fought for Native…

more »
Events
Today
Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest

8:00am|Whatcom County

La Conner Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

Regional High School Art Show

8:00am|Northwest Educational Service District

Birding Adventures

9:00am|Skagit Valley

Essence of Bellingham Photo Competition

12:00pm

Imagine Convergence on Orcas Island

12:00pm|Rosario Resort

Peter Pan, A Musical Adventure

7:00pm|Meridian High School

Dyo Festival Plays

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Bellingham Puppetry and Mask Festival

7:30pm|Alternative Library

Wild Things

9:30am|Whatcom Falls Park

SICBA Home & Garden Show

11:00am|Skagit County Fairgrounds

World Water Day Beach Cleanup

12:00pm|Squalicum Beach

Peace Vigil

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Fourth Friday Art Walk

5:00pm|Historic Fairhaven

Barry Lopez and Horizon

7:00pm|Village Books

Don Felder, formerly of the Eagles

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Sierra Hull

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

The Pageturners

7:30pm|ACT Annex

Tarnation, Ryan Stiles

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Legally Blonde
Tomorrow
Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest

8:00am|Whatcom County

La Conner Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

Birding Adventures

9:00am|Skagit Valley

Imagine Convergence on Orcas Island

12:00pm|Rosario Resort

Essence of Bellingham Photo Competition

12:00pm

Peter Pan, A Musical Adventure

7:00pm|Meridian High School

Dyo Festival Plays

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Bellingham Puppetry and Mask Festival

7:30pm|Alternative Library

SICBA Home & Garden Show

11:00am|Skagit County Fairgrounds

Tarnation, Ryan Stiles

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

The Pageturners

7:30pm|ACT Annex

Honeywagon Runs

8:00am|Riverside Park

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #154

WNPS Field Trip

9:00am|Breazeale Interpretive Center

Native Plant Sale

9:00am|Whatcom Community College

NSEA Work Party

9:00am|Squalicum Creek

Make It and Take it

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Nordic Roots Seminar

9:00am|United Methodist Church

Spring Studio Seconds Sale

10:00am|Blue Water Pottery

Sumas Writers Group

10:00am|Sumas Library

Youth Ag Day

10:00am|Skagit Farmers Supply

Quilt Museum Annex Open House

10:00am|Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum

Skagit Beer Week

11:00am|Skagit Valley

Dahlias Made Easy

11:00am|Christianson's Nursery

Free My Heart

12:00pm|Village Books

Tax Help Available

12:30pm|First Congregational Church

Forest Bathing

1:00pm|Rockport State Park

A Family Immigration Story

1:00pm

Fidalgo and Mount Baker Youth Symphonies

1:00pm|McIntyre Hall

PechuKucha Night

5:00pm|Museum of Northwest Art

Cheese Classes

5:00pm|Chuckanut Center

Giovanni & the Camino of St. Francis

7:00pm|Village Books

Manouche NW Concert Series

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Contra Dance with the Alphabeats

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Gabriel and Rebecca Manalac

7:30pm|Jansen Art Center

Skagit Symphony's Masterpiece Concert

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Legally Blonde Trove Web
Sunday
Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest

8:00am|Whatcom County

La Conner Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

Birding Adventures

9:00am|Skagit Valley

Essence of Bellingham Photo Competition

12:00pm

Imagine Convergence on Orcas Island

12:00pm|Rosario Resort

SICBA Home & Garden Show

11:00am|Skagit County Fairgrounds

The Pageturners

7:30pm|ACT Annex

Skagit Beer Week

11:00am|Skagit Valley

Rabbit Ride

8:30am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Langar in Lynden

11:00am| Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

History Tour

12:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Audubon at the Museum

1:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Legally Blonde, the Musical

3:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Poems for Peace

3:00pm|The Happy Place

Powerful in pink

3:00pm

Murder & Mayhem

3:00pm|Everson Library

Art of Jazz

4:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Classy Comedy

7:00pm|Upfront Theatre

see our complete calendar »

Village Books Trove Web The Hunts Legally Blonde Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1