Everybody Knows is absolutely compelling, but simply too small minded to become anything more than that
Often reading as a cinematic soap opera story line, Everybody Knows feels too community driven to become fundamentally successful. Running deep with its foreshadowing, backstory creation, and themes, the feature is outrightly entertaining, clearly possessing strengths more than the average family drama, but not enough to transcend the genre. With strong performances from its leads, and a internationally respected writer/director in Asghar Farhadi, Everybody Knows is absolutely compelling, but simply too small minded to become anything more than that.
Laura (Penelope Cruz) and her daughters return to her home town in rural Spain to attend her sister’s wedding. Caught up in the magic of the evening, the family are left stunned when the eldest, Irene (Carla Campra) goes missing, leaving the entire family to use their secrets and connections to uncover her whereabouts.
Farhadi’s work has been socially orientated for his whole career, and perhaps less about the social structure than his recent efforts, Everybody Knows hones in on the family dynamic and how volatile and insecure that can become when crisis hits. The balance between questioning the past and long-standing views, and unifying for a cause becomes the feature’s most dramatic theming, and essentially forces the film to answer its most difficult questions.
With its central core of past mysteries, the plot almost becomes a sideshow to the family drama running the film, and that doesn’t always make for great viewing. The two combined does offer a compelling film, but with that balance so vital, it’s tough to certify whether Farhadi has got it right. The mystery of the past certainly outweighs that of Irene’s disappearance, and this absolutely pulls the film away from feeling completely cinematic.
Everybody Knows is a passionate film, with great comment on family life and drama, but this leaves it suiting a television audience a little too much. Farhadi’s experience holds strong, and the cinematography matches that of its quality contemporaries, but by missing the mark just slightly as a cinematic experience, Everybody Knows is left feeling underwhelming with such impressive current work competing with its close-knit family themes.
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