“Everybody Knows isn’t a bust but by Asghar Farhadi’s lofty standards it’s something of a shortfaller, particularly due to how the third act unfolds. It sure as hell isn’t About Elly — I can tell you that. It’s more on the level of The Past, although The Past, which some said suffered from a layered-onion plot that felt too soap-opera-ish, is a more satisfying film. And it’s slightly below The Salesman, and way below A Separation.
“But it’s still a Farhadi film, and that always means a character-rich, complexly plotted, proceeding-at-its-own-pace family-community drama — smartly written, always well acted — in which deeper and deeper layers of the onion are gradually peeled until the truth comes out.
“Set in rural Spain, it’s about the sudden disappearance of a character but it’s not an About Elly-level thing. At all. It’s actually about a kidnapping but that’s all I’m going to divulge. But Everybody Knows follows the Farhadi form by focusing on a large community of family members, friends, co-workers (i.e., a wine farm) and whatnot, and everyone, we soon realize, knows everyone else’s secrets. Well, most of them. And by the end, everything comes out in the wash
“But the story and especially the ending don’t echo all that much in a social-fabric or social-portraiture sense. All the loose ends are tied up for the most part, but it doesn’t quite get there. The film doesn’t expand or begin to play a bigger game.
“If a friend were to ask, I would say “actually it’s pretty good…it’s not Farhadi’s best and is probably his least commanding, but he’s such a brilliant, high-calibre filmmaker that even his second-tier movies are fully involving, always believably acted and quite the meticulous ride.”
“The performances are excellent top to bottom, starting with Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem as ex-lovers who’ve moved on and invested in new partnerships, but are drawn back together after “the thing” happens. The always-first-rate Ricardo Darin plays Cruz’s husband, who flies to join his wife in Spain when the heat increases.
“Costars Bárbara Lennie, Inma Cuesta, Carla Campra, Eduard Fernandez, Jaime Lorente, Elvira Mínguez, Sara Sálamo, Roger Casamajor, José Ángel Egido, Ramón Barea…everyone performs like a master and exactly as they should.”