Everybody Knows Review

Do you know what’s Spanish for Eastenders?

Come on, Everybody Knows – which just so happens to be the name of Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz’s new film.

Laura is flying back to her small, Spanish home town for her sister’s wedding.

Having emigrated to Argentina many years ago to start a new life with her husband Alejandro, Laura barely comes home any more – a point that’s rammed home by her own family members, and will be familiar to anyone who’s ever left their small home town – populated with equally small minds – behind them. 

Anyway, Laura isn’t coming home on her own – her rebellious teenage daughter Irene is along for the ride, though somewhat mysteriously Laura’s successful husband has decided to stay in Argentina.

He doesn’t appear to be missed too much by Laura’s family and old friends though, and one old flame in particular, Paco.

Not that he’s pining for the past, having moved on and made a success of his life – much to the dismay of his ex’s family.

But during the wedding disaster strikes, and this family celebration turns into a nightmare full of fights and recriminations.

So, just like any other family wedding then. 

Turns out there are plenty of skeletons in this family’s wardrobe and, just as with most family secrets, everybody knows – even if they pretend not to.

Directed by Asghar Farhadi and starring Spain’s Hollywood power coupling of Bardem and Cruz, everybody knows is a slow burning tale of long forgotten secrets and lingering family resentments.

While everyone pretends to play happily families to begin with, it doesn’t take long for ghosts of the past to be resurrected as soon as things start to go wrong… and things end up going very wrong.

The problem is everybody knows is so slow burning, it burns out before the third act – hell, I’m not even sure there is a third act, just a really, really long second act that leaves you yearning for a little catharsis from all the family madness.

Of course, this might just be my projection.

Bardem is his usual, magnificently brooding self and his presence lifts whatever scene he happens to find himself in. Other than that, Everybody Knows has the distinct feel of a play that’s been turned into a movie – there’s a whole lot of talking going on, but not much else.

If watching a two hour episode of Spanish Eastenders is your cup of tea – and it is a whole lot easier on the eyes and ears – Everybody Knows is for you.

If, however, you’ve already lived through enough family drama to last a lifetime, you may end up taking a siesta through this.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

March 2019