Everybody Knows: A Thrilling Soap Opera

Penélope Cruz stars as Laura and Javier Bardem as Paco in Asghar Farhadi’s EVERYBODY KNOWS, a Focus Features release. Credit: Teresa Isasi/Focus Features

Pairing Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz, Everybody Knows (Todos Lo Saben) is a thrilling soap opera with plenty of twists and turns coming around the corner.

The film starts with Laura (Penélope Cruz) traveling to her native Spanish village with her children, Irene (Carla Campra) and Diego (Iván Chavero).  For whatever reasons, Laura and husband Alejandro (Ricardo Darín) now live in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  In any event, she’s back home for her sister’s wedding.   The wedding goes as fine as it could minus a gag that includes the church bell and the clock tower. This is the best gag in the film but sadly, it’s the only moment of comical relief because things are about to take a turn for the worst.  Okay, there’s also the moment where a bird decides to take a dump on lost love Paco (Javier Bardem).

At some point in the evening, Laura tries opening the Irene and Diego’s bedroom door.  Much to her surprise, the door is locked.  It’s Paco to the rescue.  There’s a deeper love story between these two and things only come straight to the surface as tensions increase.  What really happened between them when Laura left for Argentina?  The love story only provides friction because Laura’s daughter, Irene, has been kidnapped.  The ransom calls for 300,000 euros, which Laura nor husband Alejandro can offer.  There’s a catch to this, too.  If they contact the police, Irene will be killed.

I’m going to be upfront in that I’m not familiar with Asghar Farhadi’s prior work.  I’m aware that Farhadi took home the Oscar for A Separation and The Salesman.  To be fair, I went into the film blind without having read the synopsis or watched the trailer.  Let alone look up the director’s biography for what it’s worth.  All of this is to say that I did not go into the film with extremely high expectations.

If there’s a chief complaint about the film, it’s not so much the twists and turns.  It’s a thriller–don’t get me wrong–but the film isn’t without it’s faults.  Everybody Knows (Todos Lo Saben) suffers from a bloated length.  When I start to look at my watch a few times, it sends a strong message about the film’s pacing.  To put things ever so bluntly, this is a film that suffers in that regard.  It’s bad enough that this film is over two hours long but it’s a slow-paced film.  It’s not one of those films where you can’t believe you’ve hit the 150 minute mark without blinking!

CAST:  Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, Ricardo Darín, Eduard Fernández, Bárbara Lennie, Inma Cuesta, Elvira Mínguez, Ramón Barea, Carla Campra, Sara Sálamo, Roger Casamajor, José Ángel Egido

Focus Features opened Everybody Knows (Todos Lo Saben) in select theaters on February 8, 2018.  A theatrical expansion will follow. Grade: 2.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.