While it is also a place of hearth and comfort, home can also open up some old wounds…
From master story teller Asghar Farhadi, Everybody Knows is a classic tale of human, frailty, heartbreak and despair that only Farhadi can deliver. And while it actually could be one of Farhadi’s weakest efforts to date, it’s still fairly engrossing and emotionally compelling as the tragedy and dysfunction plays on a myriad of emotional and truly compelling levels.
Carolina (Penelope Cruz), a Spanish woman living in Buenos Aires, returns to her hometown outside Madrid with her Argentinean husband and children. However, the trip is upset by unexpected events that bring secrets into the open.
Everybody Knows is a solid little drama in the traditional Farhadi style as he truly does have his finger on the pulse of family dysfunction but it telegraphs certain beats along the way and is ultimately held together by a leading man performance that is perfectly in tune with the nature of the story.
Farhadi can certainly set the table for a narrative and working again in a language that is foreign to his native tongue has not proven to be an impediment in any way. With cinematographer Jose Luis Alcane he has a strong sense of framing, crafting visual boundaries that these characters exist in and allowing them all room to breathe and express themselves appropriately. The script does hit some predictable beats along the way as it unfurls but it is so much more about the journey then it really is the destination in this film and Farhadi guides his actors along the way with absolute aplomb. It’s not the kind of story where we want to be genuinely surprised at the end, but instead it’s something where we have to sweat and suffer through every decision that these characters make, which is what ultimately, makes it that much more rewarding of a cinematic experience. Farhadi WANTS his actors to do the heavy lifting and rightly so.
There’s a reason he’s so good, and this is easily one of the best performances of Javier Bardem’s career that didn’t require him to act weird or call people ‘friendo’. As Paco he ultimately carries the entire narrative. A friend of the family with a history with Carolina, he is widely accepted among the family but still with some unspoken caveats and when tragedy hits as much as he is leaned upon by all those around him he is still deemed as an outsider when decisions need to be made as a family. He wears it all with a degree of angst and unparralled devotion as he is the type who knows what the right thing to do is, even when that will run the risk of destroying his entire life as he knows. He’s a bold and noble anchor in a story that is rife with the dysfunction of family that you’d expect. Cruz’s Carolina is simply shattered by what is going on around her and while the family that is steeped in routine and ritual in this small town that she left behind years ago, can’t help but point fingers and glare at each other especially when their overestimated value and stature of Carolina and her family comes crashing down to be proven as dysfunctional as the rest of them.
This really is the magic of every story that Farhadi tells inside of this sub genre which is obviously his wheel house. We all have dysfunction and tragedy in our lives, and while we may act like we’re immune to it, we’re ultimately not. Ultimately, Everybody Knows is truth in advertising because while we all know about or flaws, it’s much more important to get on with life and make sure you live it as best you can, even with the costs we may have to live with because of it all.
- Release Date: 2/15/2019