Originally posted on: ziher.hr
Release Date: 04.09.2018.
The Old metal wheels rotate, each turn triggers a shift which then creates time in the desolates interior of the church clock bell tower. Cracked glass, covered with dust, pigeon’s nest and walls engraved with the initials of the old lovers appear in the introductory frame of the film Everybody Knows. Then, through the rural landscape of the sunny vineyards, we follow two lovers who carved their initials into the sacral space a few decades ago.
First appears Laura (Penelope Cruz), who is visiting from Bueno Aires, a small Spanish village near Madrid, with her children – teen Irene (Carla Campra) and younger son Diego (Iván Chavero), while husband Alejandro (Ricardo Darín), because of his work, could not travel with her from Argentina. After that, we see Paco (Javier Bardem) and his wife Bea (Bárbara Lennie), co-owners of one of the nearby vineyards, which originally belonged to Laura’s family. The former lovers will meet again at the wedding of Laura’s younger sister Ana (Inma Cuesta).
All this sounds a lot closer to something from the opus of Pedro Almodóvar, although Everybody Knows is actually made by the Iranian director, Asghar Farhadi, who was so far crowned with two Oscars in the category of the best foreign film. Although located in the area of Spain, which fits the film perfectly, the drama does not deviate much from the director’s narrative style by which he has become known in his previous work which was placed in Iran and France. In front of us is another authentic, complex family drama, intertwined with an intimate mystery and individual tragedy of character.
Everybody knows that Laura and Paco share a love history and it all seems to have been left in some distant past. Anna’s wedding is taking a normal course, it started with gathering in a family home than they went to a church ceremony, and at night they are having a grand celebration in the courtyard of the house, where all of the closest members of the family, seasonal vineyard workers are invited. Spanish, Catalan and the Portuguese people in one place rejoice in the triumph of love. All of a sudden celebration interrupts the blackout, accompanied by the disappearance of Laura’s daughter Irene. Teenage kidnapping raises everyone on foot and causes old lovers to retrace their moves, both in the last twenty hours and those in the last twenty years.
The motives of the perfect crime
Ever since the film “Fireworks Wednesday”, Farhadi has established his film-making structure, his constantly slow build up of characters and places until all of a sudden we get caught in the web of intriguing stories filed with private mysteries. In this way, Everybody Knows is no exception. For the first fifteen minutes of the movie, we get acquainted with the enormous celebrity casting that plays the family, after which there is (as previously seen) a sudden turn in the action (kidnapping), followed by a thorough analysis of individual procedures of character, so that viewers get enough information to discover what will happen a few minutes later. And so it goes until the problem is resolved after which the characters are left in a new, unknown situation from which they must further build relationships.
Fertile Soil of Time
This time the focus of Farhadi’s story is the flow of time and the pride of material possession. The issue of time permeates through all the audiovisual aspects of the film. Time plays a major role in direct dialogues, such as Paco’s clarification that the difference between grape juice and wine is only in the time elapsed; than there are subtle beats of the bell towers that are heard in the moments when the kidnappers negotiate about ransom of Irene; even the entire relationship of Paco and Laura is focused on time they are spending together, but also the private and familial bonds that go deep into their past.
Farhadi’s theme of pride and possession is also deeply carved into the contextualization of time. In one scene, Laura’s father, the head of the family, asks angrily, “Is the owner of the land the one who possessed it on paper or the one who takes care of it”. Although the answer that we get in that particular case does not play a big part in the story, the question remains and it penetrates to every corner of this 132 minutes long film. Through this issue, the director questions the status of migrant workers, the relationship of characters to religion and the question of the significance of the blood bonds, or whether the father of the child is who conceived him or the one who raises and cares about that child.
Everybody Knows, is one of the better film made in 2018. While it is still far ahead to anticipate potential candidates for Oscars, it all gives the impression that Farhadi’s work might get another nomination in the category of the best foreign language film. However, there is very little chance for the director to win the third prestigious award, taking into account that this time he created transient film party with famous actors, instead of his usual miniature contextualization of the difficult social problems in which The Academy, and us, general audiences are extremely enjoying.